Unlocking the Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership, Keith Merron
Remarkable Leadership

Archive for May, 2011

Good Profits

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

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A few years ago, one of the most forward-thinking leadership consultants; Fred Reichheld, wrote a book called, The Ultimate Question. It was from this book, that we were given an introduction to the world of commerce and business leadership, and were able to acknowledge the fact that if we are to stand alone from our competitors; offering the very best and unique customer experience, we need to take heed of their answers, and what they as consumers want from you, to stand any chance of being authentic market leaders. It’s during this same book that he comes up with a formula that states, quite simply,

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that the ratio between promoters of your business and its detractors is the best indicator of whether you are running a sound and sustainable company.

He calls this ratio: Net Promoter Score. It is a profound book and a profound concept; one that has been written with the very best business leadership coaching in mind. In the book, he makes a distinction between good sales growth and bad sales growth. Good sales growth is hard one, born out of deliver a product or service that has the customer wanting to come back for more. Bad sales growth is bought by the seller through pushy sales people, clever advertising, or perhaps relying on past brand success. Bad sales growth erodes the brand. I am told that Toyota has cut corners of late in their manufacturing, and that, above all else may be the indirect cause of their problems. They have built a business based on hard won good sales growth and have recently caused a disturbance in their hard one pattern. They would be well served to return to emphasis on value. So could we all.

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Creativity Knows no Bounds

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

You have all experienced it. It’s a bit like the game of telephone we’ve all played, where one person whispers a statement into the ear of another, who then whispers the same into the third one’s ear,, who further whispers this to the fourth person and this goes on and on until it gets to the last person, who speaks aloud whatever he/she heard. Inevitably, this is not the same thing that the original person said; in fact, far from it. You’ve also had the experience of being at a dinner party when someone brings up a topic which reminds somebody else of another topic, leading to someone else riffing off of, etc. The group ends up with a multitude of themes that have little connection, but an enjoyable evening is had by all.

Well, meetings are often like that, especially the poorly conducted ones. Since there is limited clarity or focus from the start, the meeting meanders and the primary aims are ill achieved. Meetings need framing. They need to be focused. They need to have a clear aim, purpose, a set of objectives and strategy for arriving at a concrete conclusion as well as ground rules. And most importantly, they need a facilitator to keep the group on track, for the happening described above is well entrenched in our collective patterns.

Okay, good point Keith, but we knew that!

Yes you did, but here’s the rub. Creativity and innovation are snuffed out by the very same processes that define good business meetings. It is in those wonderful diversions that the stuff of breakthrough is made. Great leaders don’t make their meetings so military like that the life force is snuffed out of them. Instead, they design in and often welcome temporary diversions, identifying them for the creativity and spark that they can potentially ignite by encouraging

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a personal freedom to express innovative ideas. You can’t tell where a good idea comes from, or when, and sometimes you cannot tell how either. It comes in the shower, while watching a movie, reading a blog or playing with your kid. It can come to you in the most unexpected moments and this needs to be welcomed. See the video below for a wonderful expression of this idea of movement from one place to another until the end was never predicted. Such movement spices up our life and offers an insight we could not have had while collectively pursuing a singular goal or painting within the lines.

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Connecting at a Deeper Level

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

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I gave a speech yesterday on the subject of remarkable leadership. Like most of my talks, I go in without notes and often without a clear sense of where I will go in my speech other than to follow a rough outline that gives the speech some natural structure and flow—a beginning, middle, and end. This is a formlessness that has a deeper form—one that is hard to find if you look for it in the specific guidance one is often given about how to give great speeches.

My goal in speaking

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is not just to inform or to entertain, it is to touch and be touched. Quite by accident, I discovered that my particular brand of speaking to groups is quite counter-intuitive to most and yet, fits the shape of who I am. In the past, I would always come well prepared to a speech, with power point slides, notes, stories, and reminders. I carefully followed the outline and gave good talks, ones that inform and entertain. Then, one day, I arrived at a venue to present to a rather large audience and realized I’d forgotten my notes at home. To complicate matters further, I discovered that the projector upon which my obligatory power point slides were to be shown was also broken. There I was, left to my own devices. Rather than try to resurrect the key points of my speech in my memory, I decided to let go. I let my heart be my guide.

I began the talk by stating the following to the audience, “Come, circle around. We’re going to just talk, you and I.” It was as if I was inviting this group of 100 attendees into my living room and we were to talk much like I would one on one in an intimate setting. I looked at all of them, quietly felt into what wanted to be said (guided by something deep within me) and simply shared what I wanted to share. And it was by far the best talk I had ever given, for it was not confined to only being a speech and yet it was more than a speech. It was me connecting, offering, inviting, moving from my heart and daring to be moved by theirs. It was truly a wonderful experience for all, including me. Since then, I have followed this formlessness or personal freedom and trusted my intuition and my talks are far more than what meets the eye—they are experiences, each unique unto itself, guided by mystery and designed for something deeper to stir than what ordinarily emerges in traditional speeches.

Last night, I gave such a speech on “authentic leadership” and it was like so many others, a moving experience, for me and for the audience. At the end, a lot many people came up to thank me for what stirred within them as they connected to what I was sharing about remarkable leadership. One woman in particular, came up and said “Thank you”, but she said it not in English but in the language of her ancestry.

There was so much imbued in that moment because I believe she had chosen her language to say something deeper than just thank you.

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She wanted to say, “You have touched my soul, the place from which I live and the place from which I connect. You have spoken of things that go much deeper than the surface of our lives and for this I am grateful. You have connected to me and I offer the same in return”. These words were not said, yet deeply felt. And as she looked into my eyes and I into hers, for a brief moment we shared our souls. Our eyes got moist from the intensity and pleasure of such a powerful, vulnerable connection, and we tenderly hugged each other. I whispered in her ear, “Namaste!” and that was it.

Does it matter what the color of her skin was, her gender, her ethnicity, her job, her title or any of the superficial things we tend to see in life? Or what was her past, present, or future?

What mattered in that moment were those two exchanged words of deep gratitude. I felt gotten by her, and she by me. And that is all that matters.

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