Nov 09, 2013

Increasing Revenue and Profits in 2014

Would you like a “silver bullet” that is guaranteed to increase your revenue and profits in 2014?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist and if I had it, well, I would be sitting on my private Pacific or Carribean island writing about it, rather than Dallas, TX.  All joking aside, there is an answer that, when implemented correctly, will absolutely cause a rise in revenue and profits.  It is the continuous improvement of leadership.

“Continuous Improvement” is a term usually associated with production and manufacturing.  It is a term that is used in Lean and Six-Sigma processes.  The intent of the term is to focus on the improvement of a process and, once it has been improved, improve it again, and again.  The end result is that the process becomes extremely proficient, efficient, and maximizes ROI.  Manufacturing companies that didn’t adopted “Continuous Improvement” fell to the wayside because they weren’t able to compete and they became obsolete.  The same is happening in leadership.  Leaders must continuously change and improve or be left behind as obsolete.  The following will illustrate my point.

When the Industrial Age began, many companies in the U.S. were like the sweat shops we see in third-world countries today.  The “leadership” were more like Egyptian task masters, especially on the front lines.  With the advent of unions, that strong-arm behavior was throttled.  During the decades to follow, minute changes were made in “leadership”, but the same mentality of the all-powerful “boss” over the puny “worker” continued.  Still, into the 1980’s, we saw the flagrant burn-and-churn attitude of “leaders”.  Remember the red “power” tie?  In 1989, we started the transition into the Information Age.  Some would argue that we didn’t transition, but that it happened with the single blow of the falling of the Berlin Wall.  My personal opinion is that we are still transitioning, at least in the way the majority of leadership leads today.  With the leading (actually, more managing) of people having its history riddled with tyranny, sex-for-favors, discrimination, nepotism, and other abuses, is it any wonder that employees are so disengaged from their work and company and that those companies seem to always be on the brink of surviving?  And, is it any wonder that the companies that have learned how to use current and cutting-edge leadership models are the ones that we see topping the news because of their profitability and employee engagement?

So, how can leaders continuously improve and where can this be implemented in their organization, first, to create the biggest impact?  I’ll answer the second part of that question later.  But, first, let’s take a lesson from people that are truly great leaders on how to continuously improve.  We’ll look at these three:

Jerry Rice holds at least 20 NFL records, including having played more games than any other non-kicker football player ever.  He is listed as a member of the top 100 players in the NFL, some call him “The Best”.  What transported Jerry Rice from great to extraordinary?  Here are a few of the things that differentiated him from the rest:

  • He arrived at scheduled team trainings before everyone else and stayed long after they left
  • He trained as hard in the off-season as during the season
  • He designed his practice to work on specific needs
  • He hired trainers in the off-season to push him and hold him accountable

Rice didn’t see working harder, looking for weaknesses to bolster, and tapping into outside help as signs that he lacked in talent or skill.  He saw these as a way to reach all of the goals he had for himself and his team.

Sean Combs (a.k.a, Puff Daddy) is the wealthiest person in the Hip Hop entertainment business, being estimated to be worth $580 million in 2013.  Part of the Combs story is that, early on in his career, he went to work for a record company without pay.  He did  this to be mentored and coached to learn the music business.  The skills he learned as a leader grew exponentially to the point of telling CNN back in 2010 that he is establishing his own school of business in New York City to “be “known for building leaders.”  Clearly, the value of of mentoring and coaching had, and continues to have, a tremendous impact in Comb’s life.

Anthony Robbins has also built an empire of around $500 million after being mentored by leaders, such as, Jim Rohn, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterrand, and Princess Diana.  Of course, Robbins has worked with millions of people through coaching, seminars, books, training audios and videos, and other media.  His work using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and hypnosis is renowned.  Again, tremendous success built on being mentored and coached by successful people.

Each of these successful leaders knew that they had to look outside of themselves to get a perspective that they didn’t currently hold.  Let me share one more story with you.  I have a friend that was very successful executive for a large international company.  He told me the story about back when he was in football in highschool.  He was good, but his coach saw that he could be better.  Though the coach told him several times about a small change in the way he moved would make a big change on the field, he didn’t believe it and didn’t change.  Finally, the coach showed him a video of how he was moving.  After seeing that he was moving incorrectly, he made the change became an even better athlete.  A different perspective made all the difference.

Continuous improvement in leadership is the answer to increasing revenue and profits in 2014.  Although, not everyone will create $500 million dollar businesses through it, it will have a definitive impact on the top and bottom lines.  Whether you consider the “hard” dollars of sales, productivity and the like, or you look at the “soft” dollars of employee engagement (or disengagement, as the case may be), depression, sickness, etc., there are costs associated with poor leadership and there are gains associated with just good leadership, let alone extraordinary!

Where does top-level leadership focus their attention to create the most impact in the shortest amount of time.  I’ll share thoughts and ideas on this in the next post.

Creating life in forward motion,

Dr. Edward Lewellen