The Coach's Corner

Archive for January, 2012

Are you focused?

January 31st, 2012 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment
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So many good businesses do not reach their full potential because they try to do everything and never become world-class at anything. The other day I went to a new shop to have my car repaired. The owner had a fixed list of services, and fixed hours. He knows what he does, he does it well, and he executes the services flawlessly. If you ask for something that’s not on the list, he will cheerfully refer you to someone else. The result? His parking lot is full of happy, satisfied customers like me. Is your business as clearly focused as this auto-repair shop?

When associates behave like owners, good things happen

January 24th, 2012 // Tom Doescher //
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A number of years ago I was on a plant tour, which I really love to do. When we arrived at a particular machining station, the owner asked the operator to explain what the machine was doing. The operator gave the most complete explanation I had ever heard, including the business case for purchasing this $250,000 machine. After she completed her explanation, I made the comment that she really knew a lot about this piece of equipment. Her response was that she had researched it and had recommended that the company purchase it. Later on, as I was reflecting on our conversation, I thought of this rhetorical question: “Do you think the operator was motivated to get that new equipment up and running smoothly fast?” How about you — do you create an environment where your associates behave as if they were the owners? Perhaps you should think about giving them the responsibility to act. If they feel empowered to act on behalf of the company, their sense of personal investment can move the entire organization further ahead, faster.

My son’s name is Kaka

January 17th, 2012 // Tom Doescher //
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Here is another story from China. I was meeting with a Chinese business owner and we were getting to know one another. In an effort to build the relationship and develop a better understanding of each other, I asked him about his family. He started to tell me about the various family members, and when he came to his son, he told me that his son’s name is “Kaka.” He quickly followed it up with, “I think that means _hit in English.” Although that remark might seem “politically incorrect” and/or inappropriate in a business conversation here in the U.S., we had a good laugh and it definitely helped break the ice in a new relationship. This gentleman’s knowledge of our culture enabled him to use humor to make a connection and build a bridge. It reminded me of how important humor can be (I do not mean sarcasm, obscenity, or biting comments, but down-to-earth and genuine humor). Does your company culture make room for a healthy dose of humor when warranted?

Check your ego at the door

January 10th, 2012 // Tom Doescher //
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The other day, I was talking with my mentor of 40 years. He said with a sense of disbelief, “It’s surprising … the older I get, the more famous I am.” In other words, he was saying his legend is becoming bigger than life. I like to say it another way: “There is no room for hubris.” The reason my mentor’s reputation is so strong is because of the great things he has helped others accomplish, both personally and in their business. And he’s successful because he doesn’t dwell on the legends that have sprung up about him and his efforts. Rather, he lets the work speak for itself. It’s one thing when your associates compliment you about how you have been able to lead the organization — but don’t become absorbed by what is written in the press, and don’t pat your own back. Stay focused. Stay hungry. Check your ego at the door.

Do your associates ever voice disagreement with you?

January 3rd, 2012 // Tom Doescher //
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I read a fascinating article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential,” written by Robert Kaplan. The question I found most powerful was this: “How often do your subordinates challenge or disagree with you?” In my experience, the most effective leaders have at least a few associates who are willing to share contrarian points of view. When associates are willing to speak up and voice their concerns, it can lead to a process of working together to refine and perfect the end goal. It also says a lot about the leader if he or she can trust their team and truly listen, not be threatened, and consider the ideas suggested by other team members. How often does someone on your team challenge your views? What does this say about how you lead? What does this mean about the relationship and the trust you and your associates share? If you don’t have anyone who truly challenges you in a healthy way, why do you think no one is willing to speak up? What would the outcome be if you truly welcomed others’ observations and heard what your associates had to say?

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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