Monthly Archives: March 2016

How can you have confidence it will work?

confidenceConfidence: I may not know how it will get done, but I know I will find a way to get it done.

Richard Bach wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1970 and has sold more than 60 million copies. It’s a short story about a seagull who has confidence that he could fly higher and faster than any seagull before. Through diligent experimentation and exhaustive practice, he learns the skills necessary to accomplish what he was confident he could do. The key to Jonathan’s confidence is revealed when an older seagull says, “You have less fear of learning than any gull I’ve seen.”

Here is how you can use the lesson on confidence shared in Jonathan Livingston Seagull in your leadership.

New project. You may have been successful before, but this project is different. The outcome is much more important than anything you have led. Where will your confidence come from? Your confidence comes from your past success not just in winning but in learning what needs to be done to win. Rely on what you already know, and work on where you need to grow.

“Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.” – Jack Nicklaus

New team. The most important aspect of a successful team is trust. Trust comes from the confidence that is built in your teammates’ ability to deliver on their commitments. You were a success in leading your former team and your new team has confidence in your ability as a leader. Begin by ensuring your team learns to trust each other through a series of quick wins before you attempt to lead them on a large scale deliverable.

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” – Lao Tzu

New company. You changed jobs and are working with people you have never worked with before. They may have read about your prior success, but few have worked close enough with you to have confidence in your leadership. The best way to build confidence in a new company is to build personal relationships. Get to know your peers and your direct reports first. Set up time to talk with your employees so they see the real you. People trust people, not just resumes.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Andrew Carnegie


Invest your best in the future leaders.

succession planningYou may be the best leader for today, but your company needs the best leaders for tomorrow. What are you doing to ensure your company has the next generation of future leaders ready to lead? As T.D. Jakes says, “Success is not success without a successor.”

According to a PWC CEO study, future leaders need to be adept in the following areas: Agility, Authenticity, and Sustainability

Agility: Anticipate, adapt to, and lead change.

Authenticity: Take a stand on critical issues regardless of what is popular.

Sustainability: Work for bottom-line results while also focusing on the public good.

Here is how you invest your best in developing your future leaders:

Focus on future needs not just past accomplishments. When you select future leaders to develop don’t just look at what has worked in the past. Those you develop must be able to not only survive change, but thrive in change. Look for examples of their ability to do this already, and focus their development on perfecting this skill.

“You’re going to have to have a company that is ready for the next five years where the only constant is rapid change. For that, you need people who can adjust to that change and comprehend the ecosystem” – Ajay Banga, CEO MasterCard, US

Encourage difference of opinions. The ability to drive to a consensus is an important leadership trait. To do that you need to gather the opinions of those involved and work to align them on the vision and plan to accomplish the vision. The very first step in this process is for those involved to have opinions and be willing to support them. A leader should not feel pressure to have every idea, but they do need to formulate their opinion about the end state and be able to develop an opinion after hearing everyone’s ideas. Future leaders should be encouraged to develop and support their own opinions in order to be ready to lead.

“Don’t think about it as when you are ready to leave…think about it as when the next generation is ready to lead.” – John Davis

Provide Exposure.   Learning is not the same as doing, and doing is not the same as living with the results. This is where what you built is measured not just in the short term profits, but the long term impacts both for your company and for others around you. Future leaders need to see this and be seen leading this aspect of their business.

“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.” – Anne Mulcahy



Do your employees love your company’s service?

employee experience leads to customer experienceWhy do people love Starbucks? If you have ever received surveys asking you to rate your most recent stop you know what Starbucks thinks is important. There is one question about the product and one about the price, all of the rest of the questions are about the service. Everything from the speed of service, to my favorite – did the employees make the visit special. If you visit the same Starbucks frequently, the employees usually know your name and the drink you order before you tell them – that certainly makes for a special visit. Yes, some people say the cost of a cup of coffee is too high here, but as Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz says, “Cutting prices or putting things on sale is not sustainable business strategy.”

Higher cost with better service – how does Starbucks make this work? It started with the predecessor company to what we now know as Starbucks, Il Giornale Coffee Company. In his 1986 letter to employees Schultz outlined how a focus on service for the employees would lead to a focus on service for the customers.

“We believe in hiring exceptional people who are willing to work for exceptional results. In exchange, we are committed to the development of our good people by identifying, cultivating, training, rewarding, promoting those individuals who are committed to moving our company forward.”

I summarize it like this, “Customers are willing to invest in your company when they receive great service from your employees. Employees are willing to serve your customers when they receive great investment from your company.”

Here are the three ways you should invest in service of your employees to bring about great customer service:

Serve them. The leaders job is first and foremost to take care of their employees so they can take care of the customers. How do you do that? Talk with them, coach them, mentor them, invest your knowledge wisdom and time into them. This is the best way.

“We built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with customers. Because we believed the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers was to hire and train great people, we invested in employees.” – Howard Schultz

Support them. Give them what they need. Anticipate and deliver what you think they need. Ask and then deliver what you know they need. Think of the employee experience as they deliver the customer experience.   What do they need to make their job more productive and more enjoyable?

“You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.” – Howard Schultz

Share with them. With service and support of the employees you can expect to see the results in the success of the company. Make sure you share that success. While every company is different in its means and methods of sharing, this is an important motivator. At Starbucks, employees are called Partners. Each year most Partners receive restricted stock called Bean Stock.

“Success is best when it is shared. Every time we raise value for a shareholder, we raise value for our people.” – Howard Schultz

Here are a few facts on the results of this service to employees:

Starbucks is the fifth most admired company in the world, according to Fortune magazine, and is the number one company worldwide in the food service industry.

  • Starbucks is ranked in the top 50 best companies to work for by Glassdoor.
  • Starbucks stock is up 17,300 percent since it went public in 1992.
 Scroll to top