It’s not always easy to be different or to think outside the box, but it can go a long way when you are able to do so. One example is the old-fashioned hand-written note. Think about how much it can “wow” a customer to receive a thank you card for their purchase, or to get something that says “Thanks for buying me!” along with their purchase.
One company, for instance, that has cornered the market in this respect is Better World Books. When you order their books, you receive a lengthy email from your “book” thanking you for your purchase and describing the journey ahead. Instead of having a dry email from the company that tells you the expected arrival date of the book and the titles you’ve purchased, they created a first-hand account from your book to you. Brilliant.
These are the types of little business ideas that can make a big difference. And putting a smile on your customer’s face (or that of your employees) can really go a long way.
Many people see social media as a way to reach out to clients or customers and as a necessity in the global market today. What they don’t always realize is that many of these social media channels can actually be a great resource and tool. Twitter, for instance, can actually be an invaluable tool for market research. This is a location where you can listen to your competition and to your customers without them realizing that you are doing so. You don’t have to send out surveys. You don’t have to worry about getting feedback or client response when you ask for it. Rather, if you follow the Twitter accounts of your competitors and your customers, you’ll see what they are thinking, reading, watching and doing.
Your market research is sitting there, just waiting for you to tap into it. Few business leaders and social media professional realize that this is an invaluable aspect of the social media revolution – and it’s one that can have a serious impact on a company that takes this approach seriously.
If you’re a business leader, it’s important for you to have your finger on the pulse of all aspects of the company. This means, for instance, if your company uses social media to connect with clients or partners, the business leader should be savvy in this area. It’s never appropriate to just assume that you’ll be able to hire great people who know how to do the aspects of the business that you don’t know how to do.
Rather, it’s important to build those skills yourself so that you can oversee the work that others are doing. This doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert in absolutely every aspect of the business, but it does mean that you should have familiarity with all aspects.
On a similar note, everyone in the company should have some idea of what people are doing in other departments. Even if someone is on the technology end of the company, they should still understand how the social media outreach works. If someone is writing copy – they should still know about the technology being developed and the products being introduced. These are a few of the ways that employees can ensure that they are working together and understanding the larger picture that goes into creating a successful company.
Even if you are the boss and you expect others to listen to you – it’s important to be a listener too. What does this mean? It means that you recognize that you can always learn from other people and grow with their knowledge. Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean that you’re always right. It also doesn’t mean that only your ideas will change the company.
There is a fine balance between leadership and humility. Of course you want to convey that you’re the boss. But you also want to recognize that other people’s opinions in the company have value. As Brian Chesky, the CEO of AirBNB has said to Healey Cypher of Oak Labs, “Everyone is superior to you in some way. There is always something that can be learned from each person you speak with. Humility is more than niceties; it’s a pathway to perpetually learning from any experience.”
We can always improve at our jobs and with our personalities. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t already doing a good job – it just means that there is room for improvement. Here are three ways that any executive can try to improve.
First, trying to stay positive can have major results. While there are always going to be road blocks and frustrations in the business, a positive outlook can make a huge difference. As Michael Dweck, the founder and CEO of Basic/Outfitters says, “Committing to your work with positive thoughts, your passion will shine through, ultimately leading to positive outcomes.”
It’s important to always think about how you are telling your story – and to realize that you are telling one. People love narratives and they want to follow along with a storyline. Your business is a story and the goals that you have are part of that story. Always keep this in mind when you pitch ideas, sell yourself and the company, try to motivate others, etc.
Think about what you are going to say “no” to as much as what you will say “yes” to. Harvard Business School professor and best-selling business author David Maister says that careers are defined just as much by what you say “no” to as they are by what you say “yes” to.
Many people are terrified of public speaking, and this is true even if they are executives who frequently give speeches. What most people do when they are nervous and want the task at hand to finish is that they speed up when they speak. They talk faster, hoping to be able to get off the stage more quickly and to accomplish their task.
But obviously they haven’t accomplished their task if no one can understand them, and if their words don’t have the intended impact.
One of the best ways to make an impact while speaking is with a dramatic pause. It feels counter-intuitive when you’re doing it and many people feel like they have to fill the void; but don’t fill that void. Pausing in the middle of a speech offers the listeners a chance to process what you’ve been saying. And it offers you, the speaker, a chance to pause, to gather your thoughts, and to take a deep breath.
This technique should be in any great speaker’s arsenal.
Many executives don’t want to be bothered by the technology aspects of their jobs and companies. They know they have an IT department and that their company’s chief information officer or chief technology officer will take care of these issues. But it’s often important for other executives to be part of this process. Here are a few ways to involve more executives within the company in the technology side.
- Spend time at a technology hub to meet companies, investors and others.
- Create a reverse mentoring program in the company where younger and more technologically skilled members of the team “mentor” less tech-savvy members.
- Go and actually see what your customers are doing with technology if you can. If you own a series of stores, shop in one of them and see how customers are looking at price comparisons with their phones, how they interact with technology and your products and such.
Whether you’re already a CEO or you’re trying to get into an executive position, it’s always helpful to look at others who have succeeded. Here, we share quotes from highly successful executives and the best piece of advice they have learned.
Terry J. Lundgren, the CEO of Macy’s explained during an interview with The New York Times that Gene Ross at Bullocks gave him the best advice. Ross said to Lundgren, “You’re not going to do this forever. There’s a finite amount of time you’re going to be doing this. Do this really, really well. And if you do this really, really well, everybody will see that, and they’ll move you onto the next thing. And you do that well, and then you’ll move.”
Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of Virgin Group said, “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me. I have fun running ALL the Virgin businesses — so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”
If you run a large company and have many managers working under you, then you want them to act in a certain way towards the workers.
How do you get your managers to show leadership and expertise? How do you get them to act the way you want them to?
One way is certainly by acting in the way you expect them to act and showing them a mirror. Here are a few ways that you can achieve this goal.
1. Be on time: If you value time and you want your managers to show the workers that it’s important to be on time – then you have to be on time.
Make sure that you show your leaders and your workers that you value time and that you are always on time for meetings, with memos and with promised activities.
2. Expect excellence: If you expect your leaders and workers to work to the best of their abilities, then you have to as well.
Share your expectations with others and set the bar as high as you can.
You should expect great things from those around you but you have to make sure that your expectations fit with realistic and attainable goals.
3. Keep in open mind: You want your leaders to bring in new ideas and to feel free to share those ideas.
For this, you have to show that you have an open mind and that you’re open to change.
Be a great listener and encourage people with new ideas to bring them to you and to share them with others.
You don’t have to have the attitude that things can’t change in order to keep control of your leadership.
These ideas, and so many others, can help you to attain the goals that you set for the company.
Being an example is really the most important step to cultivating greatness in others.
Being a true leader takes time and thought. It’s not enough to simply hire good people and assume that everything will go smoothly.
Rather, you need to really consider how you are going to lead those people and how you expect them to communicate, to respond to you and more.
Here are four important tips as a leader for ensuring that your workers follow your lead.
1. Delegate well: You’ve hired great people. Now it’s time to let them show you how much they know and can do. Often times, when a leader has gotten to the place of authority that he’s in, it’s very hard to give up the reigns and to trust that others will do things as well as you do them.
But you can’t do everything and you have to trust those around you. You need to learn to delegate the responsibility for completing work and the authority for others to get things accomplished.
2. Set very specific goals.It’s not enough to say that you hope this project will be finished by the end of the month.
You need to break down the tasks in more manageable ways so that you are clear about which pieces need to get done this week, which pieces you expect to see next week and so on. The more specific and goal oriented you can be, the more likely others will be to stick to the plan.
3. Communicate: Make sure that you really communicate with those whom you lead.
You need to keep your employees up-to-date on important news, changes in plans and changes to how you do business.
Make sure you get that information out to your employees and that they give it to those whom they manage as well.
4. Keep the long-term goals in mind: It’s very easy to get sidetracked with short term needs.
Most of us spend our day dealing with the immediate crises that are in front of us and the needs for this week or next week.
But as the leader, it’s important to remember the long term plans and the long term goals.
Don’t forget about these in the day to day activities that have to get done.