How You Can Deliver Unbelievable Results Again and Again
Ironclad philosophy for routinely hitting, and passing, the targets for success
When J.D. Power III, icon and founder of J.D. Power and Associates, first brought me on as a business management consultant, and later as CEO, of one of his companies called SkyGuard, LLC, he wanted a problem solved. Something was wrong with the business, and he needed me to resolve the problem and put it on the right course in order to position it for sale.
I had met Mr. Power while interviewing for a Director seat on a public company’s board; one on which he already sat. He said he was impressed with my track record of successfully growing companies across various industries time and time again, and he asked me how I was able to consistently deliver such impactful results. So, I started with a story.
At an earlier point in my career, I was offered a job by another icon, Dr. John Malone, CEO of Telecommunications, Inc., to be SVP of their Digital TV division. My role would be to oversee the design and launch for the first digital cable TV offering in the world. I told Dr. Malone I would accept the position on one condition—he let me approach the work my way. I had adopted a philosophy of the three components of a solid foundation that, when followed consistently, enabled me to deliver on my personal brand promise: “I will stun you with unbelievable results.”
The words are carefully chosen. Stun connotes speed of delivery. Unbelievable relates to over-exceeding on goal expectations. When I completed my work for Mr. Power, he wrote me a letter of thanks with words indicating I had delivered on my promise once again:
“When we look back at the shambles of an organization that you inherited and what we have today, I will tell you that you are a master of restructuring. You did more than I originally expected and did so in one-third of the time.”
My philosophy is not referring to all the really great business practices which I’ve been taught and use–making sure you have the right people in the right seats, establishing a company vision and core purpose with strategic business plans and key strategies all aligned, etc. These practices, along with having the right tracking metrics and tools for decision making, are basic business requirements critical for running a successful business. However, I have found these standards are not enough to be able to “fall on a spear” guaranteeing you can deliver unbelievable results faster than anticipated.
And such a shame, because it is so fulfilling to lead a team in the journey of delivering unbelievable results. Everyone is happy when that happens!
Self-Awareness Needs to Dig Deep
When I am either head of a company or new on a team, I focus on carrying out the three components that, when combined together, form a very solid foundation for addressing every successful business challenge I’ve taken on – whether that’s exponentially growing a stagnant company’s revenues and profits or turning around a truly failing company. The three components must be actively delivered each day in some form or another. In fact, each night when I go to sleep, I review the three components asking myself how I delivered on them, and make a mental list of how I’m going to deliver on them the next day (OK, these days I have to keep a list by my nightstand because I can’t remember as easily as a decade ago).
But the key to this is that I, fundamentally in my gut, believe these three components must be a leader’s focus and executed upon every day. It also demands that one has to have the honest self-awareness and take the time to truly reflect on their actions to deliver each component to lead a company, a division and/or a team to unbelievable results.
Philosophical Building Blocks to Unbelievable Results
So, what are these components that will solidify your foundation and ultimately lead to securing unparalleled results? Let’s explain each one in more detail.
1st Component: Uphold Your Personal Brand
I have found most business executives do not spend enough time reflecting on the attributes – favorable or unfavorable – which people with whom they have worked, if asked, would use to describe their professional persona. Think of them as human characteristics. This is important since I believe one’s Personal Brand is the door to “social currency” that can establish relationship credibility, which will lead to people feeling safe to trust your direction and recommendations, which in turn will make them want to eagerly engage with you, follow you and/or actively sign up to be on your “team” for a project. This is because the personal brand you exude gives them the confidence that whatever you tackle is sure to be a success.
The converse, of course, is people are skeptical of your ideas or direction because of negative attributes that you consistently demonstrate as part of your “brand.” Your ideas will take longer to get buy in, employees will not enjoy working on your team, lots of “scuttlebutt/water cooler discussions” will be had about you. Progress will not be made, projects will not be successful and unbelievable results will fizzle quickly.
However, once one has done the hard work to settle on four to eight positive and realistic attributes, this will establish their on-going Personal Brand to which they need to be true and unyieldingly uphold in every interaction, response and/or action during each business day. Especially in times of difficult encounters, one must always uphold the Personal Brand which people have come to know and trust. If you don’t react exhibiting that Personal Brand, they will be greatly disappointed and question their willingness to entrust in your direction.
Over the years, I spent the time to gather input from over 150 colleagues to establish the attributes that make up my Personal Brand, (which is a very specific process in itself) and I work hard every day to uphold it in my business dealings and mentoring. People with whom I work know what mine is. Not only do I rely on my Personal Brand heavily to “work for me” when I’m promoting new ideas to others, putting forth stretch objectives, or interfacing in a difficult situation, but others who join in my efforts rely on me to uphold my Personal Brand which they trust – and thus, they feel safe. Every night when going to sleep I list the attributes that make up my Personal Brand (the 1st of the three components to my foundation) and ask myself what I did that day to uphold them, and what attributes I should make sure to demonstrate the next day to help me get the results I want and need.
The social currency of your Personal Brand is golden and must work in lock step with the other two components of your foundation to deliver unbelievable results.
2nd Component: Advance the Goal You Serve
People and teams get very frustrated with a business colleague or leader who is not focused – in fact, it drives them crazy when there is a “flavor of the month” approach to getting results. This often leads to people leaving your company or not interested in being on your project or team. They have been burned before and are hesitant to willingly sign up with you again. People like being on winning teams. Plain and simple, track records are important.
This second component addresses the need to be razor-focused on whatever goal you are “serving” and fighting for and wrapping it in well thought out communications of detailed specifics. It’s critical to be very explicit (producing well-researched, supportive information) in how that goal will serve the needs of whatever entity it is benefiting. I say this because this second component can apply to the company where you work, as well as a nonprofit or other cause you are trying to promote or help, etc.
Your Personal Brand advances the goal you serve in one of two ways:
One—if people do not have positive associations with your Personal Brand because you have not established the needed stepping stones of trust, safety, credibility and good relationships that comprise one’s foundation, then whatever goal you are serving will fall on deaf ears because your track record of how you approach ideas and/or push projects (negative attributes) resonates negatively. Fewer people will want to get on your bandwagon and your hope of delivering excellent results will expeditiously disappear.
Two—if you have taken the time to secure a strong and sound Personal Brand with whom people want to be associated, and you have demonstrated that you will uphold that Personal Brand, it will be part of the foundation to make faster progress with people who want to be part of advancing any goal you serve, which in turn will help deliver those unbelievable results again and again. Think of Billy Jean King, Tom Brady, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ronald Reagan, Michael J. Fox, etc.
3rd Component: Helping Others
Helping others takes on multiple forms: taking the time to actively listen to others’ thoughts and needs and respectfully engage with them; well thought out and measured communications; investing in an employee or peer’s development via coaching and/or mentoring to transfer your knowledge to them; standing up for yourself as a minority or for a cause in which you believe; going to bat for a colleague; taking on a task when a supervisee or peer is overloaded; writing a meaningful recommendation for another on LinkedIn or detailed introduction via email; taking the time to give very specific positive feedback for a job well done; offering your time to help raise money for a charitable cause; volunteering – even thoughtful negative feedback that is constructive and helps a person be better at their job going forward.
The point is, you must invest real time and focus for these things to be executed well. They, too, are an extension of and reinforce your Personal Brand, and will most likely result in whomever you are helping to, in turn, be more willing to help you advance whatever goal you might be serving at that time or in the future.
The good news? The list of how you can help others is endless – the better news is that no matter how you choose to help or invest in others, it will help them advance a goal they serve.
The Bottom Line: This Philosophy Works
While the three components above might seem quite logical and plausible, the key to their effectiveness is consistently interlocking them with determined execution. They take a lot of focused thought, time, and energy to always be in play at a moment’s notice and interlocking well so that each one supports the other two.
I truly believe this philosophy is the foundation of my confidence in promising those who entrusted me – clients, employees and shareholders – who willingly engaged with me to restructure or grow their businesses in record time and exceed their wildest expectations. It has proven true at public company turnarounds, private company growth and ultimate sales, and in beloved community nonprofits whose doors were about to close – each in less than 24 months.
And when I reflect on others who have been and are successful at truly unbelievable results, I like to think that – whether they knew it or not – my philosophy proves true as a foundation for them in that they have worked hard to uphold their Personal Brand, which helped them relentlessly advance the goal they served in a positive way and, in turn, definitely helped many others in the process—and will continue to do so.
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