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Oct 17 20

Leadership Is About Making Choices

by David Brock

I have to confess, this article was provoked reading the newspaper about the upcoming elections. Many “leaders,” political and otherwise, are making statements. Some are choosing not to vote, one feels that a write in vote for “Ronald Reagan” demonstrates his leadership and thoughtfulness.

While it’s been those incidents that got me thinking about the issue, I reflected on so many situations I see in business. Too often, I see leaders failing to make decisions, failing to take action to address issues that impact organizational performance.

For example, too often, we see leaders failing to take action on people issues. They have people that aren’t meeting expectations. Instead of coaching them or addressing the performance issues, they hide their heads in the sand. They fail to recognize the toxic effect this has on the rest of the organization.

Sometimes, our strategies aren’t working, or markets/customer have changed. Too many leaders recognize this, complain about it, but fail to take action in correcting them.

Often, we face choices that aren’t attractive. We face decisions that may not be “popular” or fashionable. We want the perfect answer, but sometimes, we are faced with choosing between the “lesser of two evils.”

Too often, leaders fail to choose. Some say, “I am choosing to do nothing.” In reality, that’s a false choice. It is the equivalent of the leader saying, “I am choosing not to live up to my responsibility and do my job.”

Leadership is always about making choices and “leading.” Often, the choices are painful. Often, the choices aren’t great. Often, the choices aren’t easy. Sometimes, we don’t have enough information, having to make a decision with that which is available. Often, we can’t make the “perfect” decision.

Every choice has consequences, and as leaders, we have to evaluate those consequences, choosing the alternative that is better than the others. Then we make the best of the situation, continually looking at how we improve and move forward.

If you are uncomfortable making choices, you are cannot perform as a leader.

Afterword: Since I started this post based on my observation of US Politics, I will end on that topic, but with a non-political statement. Please Vote, your choice matters.

Oct 16 20

Back To Basics

by David Brock

I saw an article in my newsfeed by McKinsey: How European marketing and sales leaders handle COVID-19’s effects. In reading it, I was underwhelmed. There was nothing really new, what they were talking about was really sound leadership and management practice—COVID crisis or not.

Reflecting on it, I realized, perhaps that’s the point!

Basic principles, thoughtful leadership, sharp execution always work! Contexts change–but these basics always enable people and the organization to respond and adapt much more quickly.

What the COVID crisis, or any crisis for that matter, has done is made visible our bad practice. It’s made them visible to us, our people, our customers/suppliers, and within our markets.

It has provided us no place to hide. It has stripped away the opportunity to “spin” bad execution and mediocre results in analyst meetings or shareholder reports.

It has exposed bad culture, absence of values, bad strategy, poor leadership, and undisciplined/unfocused execution. And too many of those who have not mastered the fundamentals, reach out for the latest miracle cures/fads, or blame COVID, the economy and anything else.

At the same time, those people and organizations that have mastered the fundamentals and constantly execute them, have faced the same things. Yet, the majority are navigating these circumstances much more successfully.

Of course they have been impacted, but they have managed to minimize it as much as possible. More importantly, they are navigating the future with clarity and purposefulness based on fundamental principles.

As we look at these organizations, they have always stood out as leaders with their customers, in their markets, and industries. They create cultures of empowered/inspired people who are driven to execute at the highest levels.

There is no magic. There are no miracle cures.

We have always known the fundamentals and basic principles that underlie excellence in execution are always the foundation. We do need sharp leadership to adapt them to the situations we face now and in the future.

None of this is surprising. We have always known this.

Oct 14 20

LinkedIn Automation At It’s Worst!

by David Brock

LinkedIn is fast becoming as useless as many of the other social channels. Most of it is not LinkedIn’s fault—though it’s algorithm seems to favor “Broems.”

It’s really the fault of those selling training and LinkedIn automation tools that seek not to create value in relationships, but only to deluge people with mindless messages.

Below is a message stream I just received. The only editing I have done is to disguise the sender. It’s unbelievable, I get one of the standard, “Here’s what we do/sell, I’d like to arrange a meeting to see how we can help you.”

Where normally, I would ignore this, I decided to send a response, suggesting a different approach.

What’s overwhelming, is this person apparently doesn’t read the responses, he is just sending trashy follow up emails (in minutes after my response). Yes, I know it’s all automated. Yes, I know I should just ignore all of these.

But it’s interesting how many fall victim to this sloppy spamming! It only hurts their reputations and brand.

There are no shortcuts to establishing relationships and trust in prospecting. Automation can help us—but, blindly applied, it enables us to do the most stupid things–harming our brands and reputations.

Enjoy the stream below: (Take note of the timestamps)

Keith, CPA 8:21 AM

Hi David, Thank you for connecting, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself and my business. I work with business owners to make a significant difference in their income, ease of operations, and often, an increase in value to the business. Our goal is to make sure business owners are using valuable accounting data in order to make proactive and strategic decisions rather than reactive decisions in their business. I always like to ask because you never know who is looking , are you currently working with an accountant? Would you be open to having an introductory conversation to review how we may be able to work together? -Keith

David Brock sent the following message at 8:49 AM View David’s profile David Brock 8:49 AM

Keith:  I don’t mean to be a jerk, hopefully you will take this as constructive feedback:   1.  Apparently, you are part of an organization of tax/accounting/related professionals that just took a class on LinkedIn Prospecting. 2.  Yesterday, within 3 hours, I got over a dozen invitations saying the same thing, “Dave, your Management Consulting background……” 3.  Normally, I would have not accepted, but as an experiment, I did. 4.   This morning I am getting introductory emails, not dissimilar to yours, all asking the same thing–for a meeting. 5.  Sadly, all but one of those people have never looked at my profile–including you.  Which causes me to think, “How interested is he?  Why isn’t he doing his homework?” 6.  I recognize it is not your fault, but you and your colleagues have fallen victim to someone selling some sort of course on LinkedIn prospecting.  They are implementing the very worst in prospecting practices, as a result, they create a negative impression of you and your company.  I suspect you are much better than you are being represented. 7.  As an experiment, I have also reached out to about a dozen of my colleague, “Management Consultants.”  They are getting the same thing from the same people. 8.  If I were you, I’d be very angry.  I’d go to whoever taught that course and demand my money back. 9.  Prospecting is tough, it takes courage and persistence.  Short cuts and tricks, like those you were taught don’t produce results.  Yes, you will get a few meetings, but you don’t know about the negative impression those who never respond have of you and your company.  I suspect you and your company are better than this and deserve better.   Thanks for letting me explain this.  It is given in the spirit of constructive criticism, I hope you take it that way.   I am not interested in a conversation about how you might help me.   I wish you luck and the best as you move forward.  Regards, Dave

Keith, CPA sent the following message at 9:29 AM View Keith’s profile Keith, CPA 9:29 AM

  • Hi David, I wanted to reach out and see if you had received my last note… My name is Keith and I founded [Company Name], with the mission to make a significant difference in their income, ease of operations, and often, an increase in value to the business… I am not sure if you have this area covered or if you are content with your current accountant, but I’d like to connect on the phone and if you are open to it, to learn more about you and your business. Also if it makes sense we can discuss how I’ve helped other companies similar to yours. Are you available mostly in the mornings or afternoon? If it’s easier for you, please also feel free to book yourself into my calendar when you’re free using this link: -Keith CPA Initial Strategy Session – Keith • 1 min read

Oct 13 20

Mistakes Will Be Made….

by David Brock

Too often, we live in fear of failure. We live in fear of making mistakes. In spite of this, mistakes will be made.

Too often, bad leaders punish those that have made mistakes, never tolerating failure. In spite of this, mistakes will be made.

If we fear making mistakes, we do nothing, because if we did something, we might make a mistake. We revert to what we have always done, ironically, even if it isn’t working as well in the past. We wait and respond, so we don’t make a mistake, when that waiting may have been the mistake.

We don’t really learn as much as we might from success. The lessons of success don’t challenge us to change and improve. They only teach us to do more of the same, but that only works until things change.

We can learn from mistakes–we can learn huge amounts from mistakes, but we have to choose to. Too often, we fail to make that choice. And mistakes continue to be made.

Mistakes are good for one thing; they challenge us to learn, to figure things out, to grow, and to innovate. As you think about it, big changes and innovation come from how we learn from our mistakes; then how we leverage what we have learned into changing and taking action.

But there’s a note of caution. Sometimes I see people “gaming mistakes.” Sloppy preparation, bad execution, lack of focus and discipline, and pure laziness/not caring will inevitably cause us to fail. Ineptness is not an excuse.

We should not seek to make mistakes or fail. We should do everything possible to succeed. But mistakes will be made, often through no fault of our own.

It’s these mistakes that create opportunities for tremendous growth. It’s these mistakes that give us the opportunity to learn, grow, innovate and change.

Are you playing it safe, trying to avoid making mistakes—that’s a mistake, mistakes will happen.

Are you putting it all on the line? Are you stretching yourself, learning doing everything you can to succeed? Mistakes will happen–and that’s where we have the opportunity to make giant steps in learning, growth, and success.

Mistakes will happen. Take the advantage of what you can do with them.