The success of any business rarely depends on any key manager or executive. It is only the mistaken belief in the indispensability of an executive that masks and suppresses the talent of others. Your leadership bench is often hiding in plain sight.
What if your prospects and clients have no pain points and no problems?
Presumption of damage is never a good way to start a relationship with anyone, whether in business or otherwise.
Not long ago, I was working with a sales team to help improve their capability to ask questions when meeting with prospects. Without fail, during role plays when I played the customer, each one asked me variations of “Do you have any particular problems?”
When I responded, “No, we don’t have any particular problems,” each salesperson was flustered and did not know how to respond. Each one, after a few awkward exchanges, simply withdrew and promised to call again at a later date.
Japan Rail Shinkasen’s first class is called the “Green Car.” It is the most comfortable first class of any high-speed train I have ridden, whether it’s France’s TGV or Amtrak’s Acela. Japan Rail has outdone even itself introducing a class higher than the Green Car called “GranClass” on some lines. Yet, GranClass has got to be one of the best kept secrets in Japan and I doubt this is because Japan Rail wants it that way. It’s just that Japan Rail employees act as if they do.
While I sometimes hear CEOs complain about their lack of authority in a matrix organization, the most successful CEOs I know never do. They have all mastered the matrix, wield tremendous authority, and influence their own and the business’s advantage despite the ambiguities inherent to a matrix organization. If you are the CEO of a Japanese operation of a global company, work within a matrix organization, and you feel your authority is stymied, think again. You just might have far more power and authority than you realize, if you know how to wield these right.
If you want to achieve dramatic change in mindset and behavior, the fastest way is through provocation. By provocation, I mean deliberately evoking a visceral emotional response in others. There is nothing wrong with provocation if you do it right. It’s just that, as a leader, you ought to be provocative, but never a provocateur—the two are not the same.
On February 5th, I conducted an on-stage conversation with LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Japan President, Norbert Leuret, for both the American and French Chambers of Commerce at the Tokyo American Club. Here are my takeaways from that conversation.
All strategic plans are perfect on paper in a theoretical static world. However, no strategic plan ever survives confrontation with the ever-changing realities of business and your perception of them. A robust strategy is one that can adapt rapidly to change in the environment as well as to change in your understanding of that environment. Below are three behaviors and practices for robust strategy common to my most successful clients.
The scarcest resource in a business today is not talent, money, or technical ability, but rather independent thought and the courage to act on it.