Did You Talk to a Customer Today?

Did you talk to a customer today?

Simple yes or no answer.  According to Frank Pacetta (a hero of mine) and his Blueprint for Success a “no” gets the leader or manager (CEO especially) an immediate failing grade.

{click through and take the rest of Frank’s Blueprint for Success Management Test}

Today’s leader is charged with navigating through chaotic and disruptive times.  Employees are anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted, uncertain and have far less trust in senior leadership.  Customers have an evolving set of expectations around the business relationship and brand experience.

Progressive leaders are recognizing this shift in the balance of power, removing barriers, improving access and leading from the front to cultivate a more connected and compelling brand experience for all stakeholders (employees, customers and investors).

The People Economy is here and to thrive amid this transformation true leaders are embracing the transparency that is required, leading from the front, connecting, communicating and collaborating to elevate trust, earn emotional commitment, accelerate innovation and effectively navigate change.

There are examples of next generation leadership all around us.

Consider Dallas Mavericks outspoken owner Mark Cuban who makes his e-mail address public (and has been know to offer it up for fan access on the jumbotron during games).  Don’t like the variety in the Food Court?  Send the owner a note.

How about Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh?  You can follow him on Twitter, check out real time company updates on his blog and employees can stop by his cubicle any time for a high five {forget the corner office…he rolls without walls}.

Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn responded to the recent Forbes article Why Best Buy is Going Out of Business…Gradually via his blog with His Thoughts on Best Buy’s Recent Media Coverage where people are free to comment, invited to connect with him or follow him on Twitter.

Ford CEO Alan Mullaly (notice how he starts this recent keynote!) recently did better than just talking to customers.  He actually delivered a new customers Ford F-150.  CEO service.

These leaders may not always be right.  Their companies may not always win.  But they are real, relevant and represent a shift from the antiquated Command & Control style leadership to a more Collaborative & Connected  approach that is proving far more effective for the time.

How accessible and transparent is your CEO?  Senior leadership?  You?  Worth considering.

This next generation approach to business (Generation Flux) is opening up opportunity for those willing to embrace change, challenge the status quo and connect people to each other and a common purpose.

Change is hard.  It is also the one constant we can count on.


Don’t Chase The Paper, Chase The Dream

Attending a conference this week full of powerful speakers created some memorable moments. What always seems to stand out are what I call the ‘power statements’. The quote you could recite without notes.  The bold statement that makes you stop dead in your tracks and think about your work, life, relationships, what is missing, most important and worth your time, energy and investment.  Returning from SHRM 2011 Las Vegas there was one that resonated for me in a big way:

“Don’t Chase the Paper, Chase The Dream”

This quote was introduced during the Tony Hsieh keynote on Delivering Happiness.  It is a powerful quote borrowed from Diddy while delivering advice to now deceased rapper Notorious BIG and related to pursuing passion over profit – another power statement delivered by Zappos CEO Tony and later supported with the Simon Bailey suggestion to “Pursue Purpose over Profit”.  This whole idea of meaning over money was also reinforced during the Arianna Huffington keynote, “pursue doing good by feeling good…find the meaning….the purpose.”

Sir Richard Branson even put his own spin on following your instincts boldly with his “screw it, let’s do it” approach to business.

There were certainly plenty of actionable ideas behind the inspiration but it does beg the question.  Does the passion play and meaning movement advice from these entrepreneurial giants translate to the everyday practice of Human Resources and the future of work?

It better start.

65% of employees are classified as under-engaged.

84% of employees intend to look for a new job in 2011.

When work becomes a life necessity (drudgery?) over something we look forward to doing, it is a problem.

Work is an emotional experience.  People are hungry for more meaning.  Money matters.  But it is so much more satisfying when you find (and help others find) the intersection of passion and the paycheck.

In fact, that really is what Delivering Happiness is all about.  Cultivate a culture of passion and purpose and watch the profit follow.  It is hard work.  It takes planning, strategy, values, vision, development, alignment, authentic leadership and focus. On things that may seemingly feel like they are intangible.  Relationships.  Communication.  Trust.

Passion doesn’t manifest on auto pilot.  It happens on purpose.

As leaders and managers we’d all do better by being in the business of dream chasing with those in our employ.  We all show up at the office with our own individual needs, hopes, dreams and desires.  They are all different.   As leaders if we can understand those unique needs, focus on the whole person (work and life require balance and flexibility), cultivate meaningful relationships, create clear expectations, design a better experience and align toward a common purpose we will be taking giant steps in the right direction. That is where people are free to flourish.

We all deserve the freedom and independence to chase our dreams. At work. In life.

Happy July 4th!

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