Posts Tagged leaders

Telling It Like It Is

After a 29-year career, Johnny Miller retired this past Saturday from his job as a golf analyst for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel. Before he took the role as an analyst sitting in broadcast booths located on the 18th greens of golf tournaments, Johnny spent 28 years as a PGA golf pro. As a golf analyst, he was known for his blunt commentary of the play of professional golfers whom he critiqued. Johnny’s style was to never hold back on his opinions while offering positive or negative comments of a pros play. There were a number of pros who often didn’t appreciate Johnny’s comments on their play, but the television audience appreciated the honesty and teaching moments he provided to amateur golfers with his golf analysis. During Johnny’s career he covered 355 golf tournaments in 33 states and 14 countries around the world. Among those tournaments were 29 Players Championships, 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, 9 Presidents Cups, 3 Opens (British Opens) and 1 World Olympic (Rio). I trust that Johnny will enjoy his retirement and hope that there is someone willing to step into his big shoes and continues telling it like it is.

In business, leaders should surround themselves with people like Johnny Miller who are unafraid to provide:

  1. advice or critique of a potential strategy or tactic under consideration,
  2. views on key promotions or new hires to supplement leadership teams,
  3. opinions on the value of new products or suppliers and
  4. views on potential acquisitions or divestitures being considered, just to name a few.

Those willing to be vocal and share their opinions even when they may not be appreciated are, in my view, one of the most important traits of your most valuable employees. Leaders should be able to surround themselves with those who are unafraid of telling it like it is. By the way, just because they share their views doesn’t mean that their ideas are correct and as a leader you have to follow them, but I would suggest you should still listen.

I’ve greatly valued, even more importantly highly respected, those that I worked with who readily offered their views of a strategy I wanted to follow as either a good, bad or how it could be improved upon. I would suggest that leaders recruit those willing to be like Johnny. So I’d like to say to those like Johnny in my career like Ernie, Charlie, Byron, Mark, John M., David (RIP), Larry, Kevin, Alan, Rick, Ronnie (RIP), Adrian, Louis, Sandy, Nate, Chuck, Jeff, Heather, Terry, Chris, Steve M., Bre, Darshan, Rodney, Warren, Rachel, Ros, Brendan, Robert and Steve K., thank you each very much. (There’s many, many more I could thank.)

Over the years many pros who initially were angered hearing Johnny’ negative televised critiques of their play later grew to appreciate and value his unvarnished reviews. To those whom I worked for who took my suggestions or comments poorly over the years I offer my apologies. But I hope you’ve grown to appreciate those telling it like it is that may surround you today. Leaders incapable of allowing direct reports who work for them that are willing to provide unvarnished advice or critique of critical decisions that are being considered aren’t, in my opinion, going to get the best from them. You might also be at risk losing them to a leader that actively seeks those willing to offer their views.

Just sayin’.

Johnny Miller

Silverado Country Club, Napa Valley, California

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Credibility Leads to Success

It really doesn’t matter what it is you do in life, to find long-term success in your chosen field or business you have to have the skill set to adapt and find solutions to the problems you and your business face. To be able to continually build on successes and achieve goals that you’ve set for yourself, or those that your boss or board-of-directors have set for you and/or the business, is key to finding long-term success. That then earns you credibility.

 

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How do you achieve credibility? There are a lot of ways to do so, but as a mentor once told me years ago, that way was to “fulfill the promise”. “Fulfill the promise” meant delivering on the budgeted fiscal year revenue and EBITDA that we developed for the company. The person who told me that was the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a multi-national company and I reported to him as President and CEO of the U.S. division. He taught me a great business and life lesson.

By surrounding myself with a talented team of like-minded individuals, together we fulfilled the promise year after year. That gave us credibility. Credibility provided greater influence in moving the business forward. Credibility also provided us flexibility to pursue new business opportunities, money for acquisitions to further the growth of the company and to build innovative software solutions that provided us with greater success. The key is that you have to work continually to fulfill the promise. It’s not an easy task but it’s the only way secure the future for yourself and the team.

Ultimately when you establish credibility, gain influence and flexibility in what it is you do you will find that new opportunities abound. It really doesn’t matter what it is you do in your life, if you have credibility it speaks to the ability to inspire others.

“In government institutions and in teaching, you need to inspire confidence. To achieve credibility, you have to very clearly explain what you are doing and why. The same principles apply to businesses.”

Janet L. Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

When you have credibility you gain influence. Your ideas and views have greater meaning and weight, which will help shape the direction of the company that you work.

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”

Robin S. Sharma, Author

With credibility you also gain flexibility.

“What is clear is that business leaders must commit to champion change – to be transparent about their goals for change, to align their incentives systems to drive the change, and to make sure their work environments are flexible in a way that allows men and women who choose to work to be able to achieve all of their potential.”

Beth A. Brooke, Global Vice Chair – Public Policy, Ernst & Young

So working to gain and then maintaining credibility should serve you well in whatever endeavor you choose. Credibility is achieved when the actions you’ve taken allow others to believe in you as a leader.

Just sayin’.

 

EBITDA – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization

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Meaningful Quotes – Harbaugh, Hogan and Einstein

“Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”Jack Harbaugh

“Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind”, is what the father of two current National Football League (NFL) head coaches said to them when he dropped them off for school each morning as they were growing up. That father is Jack Harbaugh and he is the proud father of Jim Harbaugh – head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and John Harbaugh – head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Based on the careers of both Jim and John it is apparent that their father’s entreat to them each school day provided them with the drive to be successful.

In these difficult times that many in business face, Jack Harbaugh’s advice to his sons should resonate with everyone. Enthusiasm (or passion) for what it is you’ve chosen to do in life is critical, especially if you want to be successful. It may be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm when you look around at the competitive landscape; and if you’re going to survive and grow your company not only do you have to be enthusiastic, but everyone in your company needs to exhibit the same trait. Every organization, regardless of the size, needs a leader or leaders that can help guide it through the ups and downs that surely will take place over the life of a business and help instill the enthusiasm that Jack Harbaugh instilled in his sons. Without enthusiasm, you’re doomed.

 

“There are three ways to beat somebody. Out work ‘em. Out think ‘em. Then you intimidate them. Its part of the game.” Ben Hogan, professional golfer

In his era Ben Hogan was one of the great golfers and as a child and as an adult suffered adversity which he was able to overcome. At an early age he suffered the loss of his father due to suicide and to help his family earn money he took a job as a caddie. His golf career was put on hold for three years while he served during World War II and a few years after he returned to professional golf; he and his wife were involved in a near-fatal car accident in 1949 where he sustained multiple fractures to his pelvis, collar bone, ribs and an ankle. His doctors told him that he may never walk again and that his professional golfing career was over. Not only did he walk again, but he went on to win on the professional tour and win big. Ben won 63 professional golf tournaments during his career. I think he mastered the three ways to win.

At any level in team sports coaches try to put together a group of individuals that can work together cohesively toward the ultimate goal of winning. In business, leaders and managers work toward the same goal. In business putting together a diverse group of individuals who can accomplish the various goals that the company sets is what drives success. As Ben Hogan said, to be successful at what you do you need to work hard and come up with strategies that will enable you (and your team) to win. The third way Ben used to win was to intimidate his opponents through pressure. Pressure is a factor that exists in all sports.

What I like about Ben Hogan’s quote is that you can relate it to the business world. To me it embodies the idea that even if you’re business is smaller than those with whom you compete; you can still be successful by being good at your work and by “Being Smart”. Success can be seen by fellow competitors in the marketplace as a form of intimidation or more importantly respect. Regardless of the size of your business, most often when you “out work ‘em and out think ‘em” you’ll find success. Use all three ways to your advantage as Ben Hogan said, “Its part of the game.”

 

 

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

 

This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, often is used to describe a business practice/strategy or two that a company never seems to change even though the business environment that the company operates is constantly changing or evolving. Over the years I’ve used the quote a number of times while trying to make a point in a business discussion with a supplier, T.P.A., employee and others. I’ve also used it while talking to one or more of my family members or friends. Perhaps you have too.

 

Often, when you’re just too close to something that you just can’t see the problem, you need someone close to you that you can trust who can tell you what they see that you’re doing in your business that’s not working. Something you’ve been doing “over and over again” while getting the same result? I’m going to guess that there are many. We tend to take a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to things we’ve done over the years that have historically worked. Einstein’s quote is very simple and straightforward. Are there things in your business that you could perhaps take another look and do a little differently to improve the performance of your business? If you make a change you may get the same result, but if you’re not willing to try; how will you ever know?

 

Just Sayin’.

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