“I’m Your Huckleberry”
One of the greatest lines in history came from Val Kilmer, who played Doc Holliday in the movie “Tombstone”. It’s the climax when Holliday confronts Johnny Ringo, one of the leaders of the Texas Outlaws. Ringo was expecting Wyatt Earp, whom he knew he could defeat in a gunfight. Instead, Holliday came from behind a tree and uttered that memorable line. The instant Ringo saw Holliday, he knew his days were over. Ringo was armed with appropriate information, but a change in his plan adversely affected his outcome.
Custer’s Last Stand
Sticking with the western theme, an example of a leader who didn’t know what he didn’t know was George Armstrong Custer. In June 1876, Custer led his troops to battle at Little Big Horn. He assumed, incorrectly, that his military intelligence and superior technology would quickly overpower the enemy, which would result in an immediate victory. What he didn’t know was that he was outnumbered… EXTREMELY outnumbered. By the time he found out, it was too late. His cavalry suffered one of the biggest defeats in US Military history.
Now let’s talk about a third kind of leader: One who plays the game with his eyes up, like a great point guard on the basketball court. He or she sees the game as it unfolds and knows where their teammates should be positioned every second. They usually aren’t the scoring leaders, but rarely does the team win without them.
“What kind of leader are YOU?” versus “What Kind of Leader ARE you?”
A small shift in emphasis from one word in a sentence to another can change the attitude of the response from an upbeat, positive, team building one to a defensive, self-centered, egotistical one. Your non-verbal response (or reaction) to that question will speak far more loudly than your words.
Don’t get upset for being asked, but which is appropriate for you… The first or second? Or the third?
There’s a lot of instability in the sales world right now. It’s clear from the tone of message boards, forums, e-mails, and business meetings that the ripples in the water are developing whitecaps. While all of the attention is on somehow innovating ways to continue building revenue, there’s an even bigger problem that will potentially cancel out a large number of marketing efforts designed to build brand trust: Employee turnover.
It’s not the 80’s anymore, folks. You can’t expect a terminated employee to remain quiet when you let them go for not meeting the quota you assigned them using your antiquated sales systems. It’s 2016, and they have networks, connections, friends and followers. People “like” them and their online communities reflect their shared, complementary world views. So what happens when they post on their timelines that they just got fired from the job they were enthusiastically posting about getting just two months ago? It’s likely to be “Outrageous!” Even more so are the numbers.
Let’s say you hire, train, and fire 5 people per year and each averages 200 close online contacts across all of their networks. That’s 1000 people per year that no longer hold you or your brand in high esteem: You fired their friend…You now suck. Not only that, guilt by association concludes that your brand and everyone affiliated with your brand now sucks. But wait…we’re STILL not done sucking: The industry with which your brand is affiliated sucks, too. “A thousand people in a one-rep market doesn’t make that much difference”, you say? What if you’re not the only brand OR industry representative in the market? What if there are 20? Or 200? As a group, you are burning through 1000 people per year. Potentially 200,000 of the customers you intended to market your products and services think, you guessed it— that YOU suck. Does that get your attention or are you still not buying it? That’s what I thought.
Here’s what is baffling: Nearly every forum places the blame on the employee for their failure to produce! “It’s that damn (fill-in-the-blank) generation! They just don’t want to work!” Heaven forbid anyone would entertain the possibility that the world around them is changing at the speed of light. I learned years ago that you have to provide employees all of the tools and training necessary for them to succeed or else they will fail. I also learned that you manage things, but you LEAD people. How many true leaders seriously have NO contingency plan when all trends over the last decade have indicated major changes are on the horizon? How is it in the realm of possibility that interrupting people’s lives to initiate a sale is going to work forever? Do DVR’s, disconnected land lines and DNS database usage stats not send a message to anyone else?
The internet’s inherent advantage is that customers can tell brands how they want to be served in real time. Unfortunately, it seems that very few are listening. Instead, enthusiastic people with unlimited potential are being turned off by legacy companies every day because the only tools they are trained to use are obsolete. There’s also a subliminal message being conveyed to great current and future customers: “This brand isn’t equipped to serve you on your terms. You need to get online and build a relationship with one that’s looking to the future instead of living in the past.”
Even the best marketing strategists can’t dig themselves out of that hole.