Saturday, August 04, 2007

Leadership Part 2: The Outside Expert

I remember learning early in my management career that familiarity diminishes credibility. What this means is the longer you lead a group of people the more they get used to hearing your vision and begin to take it for granted or even disassociate with it. How do you ignite the spark in your team when you encounter this? There are two simple answers. One, send your team to a conference in which the theme echos your vision. Two, bring someone in from outside your organization to present to your team.

Option One
Anytime someone attends a conference they are bound to hear a message or concept being delivered by a speaker they have not listened to before. Although the message or concept is likely not a new one (compliments your company's vision or core values), this will typically motivate them and provide that surge of excitement that was seemingly missing.

Option Two

Evaluate your network of contacts and focus on people who share a similar business outlook or that are in the same industry as you are. You can also find someone in a completely different industry that has a similar philosophy on customer service, account management, etc... If you don't have anyone in your network its time to start making new contacts. For example, if your company and team place a high value on customer service then make a list of the 10 best places you have received customer service. Include retail, restaurants, salons, personal trainers - anywhere you feel the service is excellent. Next, call and request a manager or senior staff member from one of these organizations visit your next team meeting and talk about their business and their perspective on customer care. If there is a specific area that you want highlighted, or draw a parallel to, let the presenter know ahead of time so they can incorporate it into their message. I have successfully done this when I brought in authors, insurance representatives, personal shoppers and restaurant managers to name a few.

It may not hit your team right away that the message they just heard from an "Outside Expert" is the same thing you have been telling them all along - but does that really matter? The goal is to get everyone motivated and excited again.

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