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What is the ultimate product of your leadership?

One of the services we provide clients is a system for putting the right people into the right jobs.

Both in our hiring assistance and in executive coaching we ask one key question: “What is the ultimate product you must produce in exchange for your salary?”

This isn’t a question about roles, responsibility, or tasks.  It is getting clear about ultimate value for pay.

You would be surprised by how much difficulty people have in answering this question.

Recently I was working with the CFO of a large and very successful manufacturing company, and I asked him this same question about himself and his leadership contribution in his business. 

“What product do  you and your department ultimately contribute to the business?”

His answer was one word, and it was powerful:  Insight.

the inner nature of things

When I looked up the definition of the word in Wikipedia I found this:  The understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. 

Isn’t this a potent way to think about one’s contribution as a CFO?  I often get answers like:

  •          Up to date financial information.
  •          IT Systems that people can use to produce value.
  •          A positive cash flow.

Or any one of the corporate high level financial goals.

But no. Insight.

Just think about the impact this CFO will bring his company if indeed he causes everyone in his company to have insight?  This is a much higher order way of thinking about contribution and value. 

If my client can ultimately contribute insight to his company, I believe he will hit the ball out of the park.

So here is my question to you. 

What is the product (as in ultimate output or result) of your leadership?

The best answer to this question may not be the first thing that comes to your mind.  When you identify your highest and best leadership contribution, align everything you have to that one objective and vision.

For those who are interested in knowing how to make your highest and best contribution as a leader, check out our Leadership Results 365 and Communicating for Results workshops.  This is a high value way to begin obtaining insight about exactly how you contribute the best of who you are to your organization.

What if payroll was your best business investment?

Best Investment Ever?After years of working with entrepreneurs I’ve watched you sweat over making payroll. I’ve seen how you saved yourself for last, and often times you didn’t pay yourself because there wasn’t anything left. You sacrificed so you could make payroll, and your vision of a better future kept you going when the going got tough. And it did get tough at times. It may even be tough right now.

Still, I think many if not all entrepreneurs don’t think of payroll as their best business investment.

New equipment . . . certainly.

Great marketing, yes.

Travel and sales expenses to close the next big deal? Of course.

But payroll?

Most of you would say it is a necessary expense. Maybe even a necessary evil.

In fact some of you resent the very people you pay because you don’t think they are giving you 100%. If you are really honest with yourself, you have felt this way more than once, haven’t you?

At the same time, how many of you know how to maximize your payroll investment? How many times do you pour part of each month’s payroll dollars down the drain because you don’t know how to get the best and most out of your people?

As a business consultant and coach I see payroll waste. I know entrepreneurs who have killed the spirit in their people. They micro-manage. Solve problems for employees rather than let them do it themselves. I’ve seen employers constrain their people in such a way they have gone brain dead. They are just showing up for a paycheck, doing enough to get by, and if you are lucky you are getting 50% on your dollar. It happens all the time. In fact, Marcus Buckingham in his book The One Thing You Need to Know says that in his research, only twenty percent of people he surveyed said they are well matched for their jobs. This means employers are generally out of touch with their people and the work they are having them do.

Truth is we frequently put people in jobs that don’t fit them, or so constrain our people so they feel underutilized and we get much less than their best and much less for the money we pay them.

So here is the question. What would it take for you to know your payroll investment is the best money you ever spent on your business? How would you know that payroll gives you the best possible return on your investment each month? How would it make you feel if you knew that each person you hired would automatically add to your bottom line? Wouldn’t you recruit more of these types of people just to make more money?

So the end to our employment dilemma is for executives in business across America to learn how to make their payroll their best investment ever. We all need to learn how to maximize the payroll investment, and know how to connect people with work in such a way that they are inspired each day and give their all. They would love their jobs rather than endure them. They would know exactly where they are making a difference, and they could show you the results. And your customers would know it too. They would keep coming back to buy more because of your great products and services. But more importantly they would love your people.

This will not only turn around your business; this is the way to turn around our economy!

Where do you begin? Start expecting that your payroll investment must become the best investment you ever made. Here is how . . .

  • Ask your employees what it would take for this to be the best job they ever had.
  • Ask what they want from you and their supervisors to give their best every day.
  • Listen to what you hear as if your profitability and your future depend on it.
  • Do what they tell you.
  • Invest in the skills training.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Demonstrate you really care.
  • Let them show you what they can do.
  • Make agreements to do what you decide together.
  • Remind them if they forget to keep their part of the agreement.
  • Keep listening and working on targeted improvements.

Do this and I think you will be amazed. Continue to hold the vision that your payroll is your best business investment. Set new goals. Share the vision and ask for help. Let me know what happens.




In leadership, love works.

This message was written on Good Friday, the religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on a cross.

What is good about Good Friday? Judging by the legacy of his leadership impact two thousand years later, Jesus is probably the most successful leader of all time; yet, on Good Friday he is at the lowest point of his leadership career. Falsely accused, publicly humiliated and sentenced to death — Jesus looked like a tragic failure for a leader. The vision he cast to his followers over the previous three years didn’t seem to match these circumstances. Equally disturbing, only one of his 12 closest followers turned up to support him at this most difficult time. Why is this good?

It may seem odd to talk about leadership and love in the same breath. In business leadership such a notion may seem unprofessional. Leaders who value love may not seem to have respect in the boardroom, let alone on the manufacturing floor.

Do you regard being loving as a sign of weakness? Our leadership reality is that there is a significant precedent: Love impacts the bottom line.

In my 23 years of executive coaching I’ve found myself saying “I love people into high performance” and have at times questioned the marketability of that language. However, I see evidence all around that love in the workplace is profitable on many fronts. Just last night I was at a University of Portland business school Hall of Fame induction where the speaker; former U of P graduate and company president Fedele Bauccio; openly talked about loving his employees as the key to the successful business culture of his Bon Appetit Management Company. His company now operates more than 400 cafes and serves more than 80 million meals a year and now serves the Starbucks corporation offices in Seattle.

Is being loving a weakness in business? Consider the most famous and highly respected leaders of the past—what was their motivation? Were they acting selfishly on their own behalf or were they subordinating themselves to those they were leading serving them with courage and heart? Love, honor and respect are at the core of great leadership. The evidence is all around us, but are we willing to consider it? Further, can we even imagine applying it in our role as business leaders?

Can love live in the boardroom?

Understanding why Good Friday is called good is the same as seeing why love works in leadership. Digging deeper into Christ’s actions helps us recognize the power of a leader’s love.

The night before he died, at the lowest point in his leadership career, Jesus met with his followers for a meal.Foot Washing He knew three years of leadership preparation was about to end and others would need to step up. Can you relate? You have probably faced moments of leadership truth like this where what you say and do as a leader is critical.

What did he do? He performed the lowest of all jobs in the household to make a point. He washed his followers’ feet. He demonstrated the highest level of leadership exists in serving others. He then said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Is this the challenge we face when considering love as a key leadership principle? Are we afraid to humble ourselves and model what leadership is really about? Transparently demonstrating our love for others?

Want to learn how to convert love to business results? Join us on Tuesday the 17th for Leadership Results 365 and Communicating for Results in the afternoon. Then join us for The Way of Wealth on Saturday morning the 21st.