“Words of Wilson”
Guest Columnist, Robert Clinkenbeard, The Radix Group LLC.
The Power of Clarity
By Robert Clinkenbeard
Can you describe your company’s strategy for 2019 in one sentence? If you or your leadership can’t clearly communicate the three pillars of your vision in 18 words or less, you could have a crisis of complexity.
Clarity is the secret sauce of execution. But distilling your idea to its core and creating a concise message is a challenge in a world overflowing with information.
If you have big ideas and big goals but don’t know where to begin, start by asking three questions:
Are You Playing Not to Lose or Are You Playing to Win?
Playing to win is different than playing not to lose. Playing to move things forward takes risk. It’s uncomfortable. It means rocking the boat or making decisions that are difficult. Playing not to lose is reactionary and grounded in avoiding mistakes. Different mindsets, different outcomes.
Deciding which action fuels your leadership style is the pivot point between whether your strategy will be based on playing it safe or seizing the advantage. The point is that when leaders, like athletes, are challenged to rise to the occasion, they perform better than when focused on the consequences of failure. Next time you or your team think about opportunity, ask yourselves, “are we framing this as a challenge to aspire to or a threat where the risk of losing is uncomfortable.” Everything you want is on the other side of fear are words to lead by.
What Are You Doing to Deepen Relationships?
Who are the 250 most important relationships to your business? How do you keep track of them and nurture them?
Create a list of 200 relationships that are important to your business and 50 relationships that are vital. These could include existing customers, market leaders and industry influencers, vendors, partners, media, your team, and professional resources such as lawyers and CPAs. Include people or professional groups you don’t know but who have potential to be strategic alliances or links to your success.
This exercise forces you and your team to examine your short- and long-term strategy, which must be clear if you’re to decide the right 250 and the vital 50. To draw up the list, rank your relationship matrix from “no relationship” to a “lifeline relationship” – a person or entity that truly has your back. Identify ways to improve the loyalty of existing or new relationships to include attributes of character, such as, generosity, transparency, trust and accountability.
More simply, make sure these 250 are in a special database, powered by a process that reminds you to cultivate these people regularly, especially the top 50. Send them a note of thanks, take them to lunch, breakfast or a sporting event, and commit to regular, thoughtful and meaningful contact.
How Would I Put You Out of Business?
Can you survive disruption? Successful businesses are innovating. Tools are transforming, customers are re-thinking, and the speed of business today means the fast eats the slow. Companies that get it right survive. This is a powerful discussion to get your team thinking beyond your present strategy. Execute a SWOT analysis to help you align around your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Think about your business from the perspective of your competitors: what strategy would your competitor have to put you out of business? Knowing the threats and obstacles your products, services and approaches face eliminates complacency and unlocks your company’s ability to perform.
One of the great examples of a single sentence strategy statement comes from professional tennis legend, Pete Sampras: “Win the Wimbledon men’s singles title with an attacking serve and volley game.” He states what he wants to achieve, where he wants to achieve it, and how he plans to win. That’s all it takes. That, and a lot of work and heavy lifting on the part of your team to keep it simple. Or, as Albert Einstein said when asked to explain relativity, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Author: Robert Clinkenbeard is owner of The Radix Group LLC, a global business coaching firm based in Greenville South Carolina specializing in strategic planning.