‘Audacious’ = bold, courageous, controversial, contrarian, risky and edgy.
What does it mean to be an ‘Audacious’ leader?
When I talk about audacious leadership, I’m referring to these four principles that have proven to be essential ingredients for a high performing organization and A BILLION IN SALES.
#1. BE DiFFERENT!
Look for ways to be special and stand out from the crowd around you and be the ONLY ones who do what you do.
It’s the first principle of Audacious Leadership because being different from others in a way customers CARE about is essential for business survival and growth.
My observation is that even though the world has become fiercely competitive, organizations have not improved much at distinguishing themselves from their competition.
Expressions still used to stake competitive claims — BETTER, BEST, #1, LEADER. PREMIUM, MOST RELIABLE, GREAT TASTING.
“(Beverage company) offers the best coffee and espresso drinks for consumers who want premium ingredients and perfection every time.”
“We work hard every day to make (Card company) the world’s most respected service brand.”
These are lofty helium-filled statements helium-filled claims at the 10,000 foot level that, as a competitive claim, are essentially meaningless because they can’t be proven and leaders can’t be held accountable for delivering them.
Aspirations have other value—as statements of intent—but to distinguish an organization from their competitors and make the buying proposition clear for potential customers, they’re not at all useful.
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
“To inspire humanity — in the air and on the ground.”
’ONLY CLAIMS’ are the solution
‘ONLY’ competitive claims The ONLY Statement to express an organization’s uniqueness.
“We are the ONLY ones who…” is the form of The ONLY. It is specific, understandable, binary and measurable.
”The North Delta Business Association is the ONLY team that:
1. Links you to other businesses; 2. Connects you with experienced & knowledgeable people to help you lead & grow your business; 3. Constantly challenges you to do things differently.”
“St John Ambulance is the ONLY First Aid Advocate that provides safety solutions anywhere, anytime.”
“Roy Osing is the ONLY author, entrepreneur and executive leader who delivers practical and proven ‘Audacious Unheard-of Ways’ (no one else talks about ‘Audacious Unheard-of Ways’) to build high performing businesses and successful careers.”
“Roy is the ONLY coach and advisor who offers The ONLY Statement as a practical and proven tool to create a competitive advantage for organizations and individuals.”
RULES of ONLY
- Choose the customers you intend to serve—your WHO.
- Define what they CARE about; what they CRAVE.
- Determine your top 3 skills and competencies.
- Match what the WHO cares about with your skills and competencies.
- Draft your ONLY.
TEST your ONLY
- Is it compelling and relevant? — does it accurately express what the WHO craves?
- Is it TRUE — do they believe you actually deliver on the statement consistently?
- Never include PRICE in the statement.
- Keep it BRIEF. Your ONLY is a sound bite that consumes a few lines, not a narrative consuming a page. If it looks like an essay it isn’t a viable claim.
- ONLY must speak to—target—the specific CUSTOMER GROUP you are targeting, not the market in general.
- Your ONLY is a DRAFT which is always susceptible to change given the unpredictability and dynamics of the markets you play in.
- Take your almost-there only statement and start using it as your competitive claim.
Experience how effective it is in competing and getting business. Refine it as you go. And stay alert for a response by a competitor who may suddenly come awake when they see your move.
The key to execution is to have a PLANNING PROCESS designed to execute, as opposed to one that tries to create a perfect plan—which doesn’t exist.
Most organizations spend 80% of their time on creating a perfect plan and 20% on how to execute it in the real world.
The Strategic Game Plan
My process, the STRATEGIC GAME PLAN process—SGP—is designed to produce a workable game plan quickly so execution could begin as soon as the plan is complete. It typically requires a 2-day investment to complete an effective SGP.
The SGP process answers 3 questions:
How BIG do you want to be? — This is your top line revenue goal over the next 24 months (remember, 5-year plans aren’t terribly helpful to drive execution). The answer to this question also determines character and risk of your plan.
WHO do you want to SERVE? — Which customer groups have the potential to deliver your 24-month revenue target?
How will you compete and WIN? — How do you intend to win your WHO given the competitive alternatives available. This is where The ONLY Statement as discussed above forms the answer to the question… “We will compete and WIN by being the ONLY ones who…”
Other Execution Moves
- Assign a Strategy Hawk to oversee plan execution.
- Cleanse the Inside of the organization of obstacles to getting stuff done — Dumb Rules and CRAP.
- Focus on and support the frontline.
- Hold leaders accountable for establishing direct Line of Sight between the plan and the role of each employee.
A common definition:
“Servant leadership is a leadership style and philosophy whereby an individual interacts with others—either in a management or fellow employee capacity—to achieve authorityrather than power.”
My view of serving is that it isn’t about achieving authority at all, rather it’s a STRATEGIC ACT to improve the effectiveness of executing the organization’s Strategic Game Plan.
It’s a means to THAT end.
I discovered that one of the first approaches to get leaders in the workplace—Management by Wandering Around—didn’t go far enough in terms of using employee input to improve the performance of the organization.
I took it further by practicing what I introduced as Leadership by SERVING Around—LBSA—designed to HELP people not merely report on what I saw them doing.
The essentials of LBSA:
- It’s based on asking employees “HOW CAN I HELP?”.
- It’s a PERSONAL question, not an organizational one.
- It’s an enabling process to allow people to do their jobs easier and more effectively and to eliminate barriers—Dumb Rules—to customer satisfaction. I would ask “What’s preventing you from saying ‘Yes’ to customers?”
DIY leadership is all about what I call ‘strategic micromanagement’ where a leader decides, based on the strategic importance to the organization, where they need to jump into the details and micromanage.
In my experience, leaders delegate too much to the point with some it simply becomes abdication of their responsibilities. Leadership dogma says that leaders should stay out of the details and let people do their jobs, and so they do exactly that regardless of the strategic consequences of their delegatory actions.
There are certain areas where leaders must wade into the water, take charge and ‘get wet’.
The execution of the organization’s strategy should be the primary focus of the DIY leader. If execution fails, performance falls and strategic goals don’t get met. I can’t think of a more important area where a leader needs to get personally engaged and leave their fingerprints.
Audacious leaders NEVER delegate the stuff relating to the execution of their strategy.
These are a few specific activities that I personally took on; they formed the platform of my weekly calendar:
- Communicating the Strategic Game Plan of the organization.
- Architecting the Customer Moment; what the customer engagement process ‘looks like’.
- Auditing the organization to see if its values are being practiced consistently.
- Performing the role of the Strategy Hawk to ensure that our strategic game plan’s objectives were met.
- Personally getting involved in interviewing candidates for Frontline Management positions to ensure the right ‘people lovers’ were hired into customer contact roles.
Audacious leaders are DIFFERENT, they focus on EXECUTION, they SERVE people and they’re masters at DIY.