I have literally just walked off the stage from my last presentation/workshop for 2015. It’s been an extremely busy year with more than 200 days on the road, zigzagging across the United States and Canada and delivering programs in Australia, New Zealand and most recently Poland. As I look back over the year here are a few big takeaways that I think you might find of interest.
- Culture and talent are critical. In most of the businesses I worked in this year the single biggest place where they could reduce waste, reduce costs and increase revenues and profits was in the quality of the people on their team and the culture in the organization. I believe that companies need to put more focus on hiring, growing and retaining top talent – and building a winning culture of engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are highly results driven, customer focused and accountable. To me, these should be major strategic objectives in almost every business.
- Lack of accountability and disciplined execution are the biggest problems I see in almost every organization worldwide. There is no shortage of bright, sharp, talented people who can develop highly innovative strategies and ideas – but there is a huge shortage of people that can take those ideas and effectively turn them into results in the marketplace. Again, another place to see major revenue growth and profitability in many companies is focusing more on execution.
- As I look at the programs I was asked to deliver, there is a clear pattern of a handful of workshops and keynote speeches that the majority of my clients asked me to focus on:
Advanced leadership, especially leading organizations through change
I delivered this program for a number of companies whose industries were undergoing massive change and were challenged to get their employees not just to embrace change, but to drive change.
Many of my clients requested that I help their organizations learn more about how to create higher levels of engagement, commitment, teamwork and collaboration – what I have come to call creating and “ownership mentality” throughout the organization.
Business excellence/strategic thinking
I spent a good bit of time this year helping companies take a hard look at their current operations, benchmark against best practices and fine-tune their strategies to be successful in the future.
Although I started my career doing high-level sales training, I stepped away from it for a few years, but now many of my clients are asking me to help their entire organization become a sales organization focused on being trusted advisers to their customers.
My recommendation would be to look closely at your organization and make sure that none of these are areas that you are neglecting.
- Lastly, I am becoming more and more aware that building a strong network of people that want to help and support you (because you are helping and supporting them) and then using that network to generate strong positive word-of-mouth… should also be one of your major strategic objectives. It has become obvious to me that social media, combined with social proof, are the future of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. But all effective networking and word-of-mouth marketing is based on, delivering massive value and being so incredibly remarkable at what you do…that people want to remark about you, that is, tell other people about how great you are. Just trying to build up your email list or the number of contacts you have on LinkedIn is not an effective strategy, it only works when the connections are created through trust and strongly demonstrated competence.
So those are some of the major things I noticed about 2015, which means they will probably continue to be big issues in 2016. Are you seeing anything different?
I very much look forward to your thoughts – John