Sunday, December 25, 2005

Humility, "No," and Keeping Everybody Satisfied

Way back on October 31st of this year (yeah, yeah, yeah ... so I’m a little behind in my posting ...), John Windsor of BrandShift posted about creating more satisfied non-customers ... the gist of it was that by saying “No” and not spreading yourself too thin, you not only create more satisfied customers (because they’re getting you at the top of your game without additional stress and distraction), you also ensure that those to whom you say must say “No” are not unsatisfied by the distracted, burned-out, and tired old version of you (or your organization) that you’d present to them because you stretched yourself beyond your capabilities.

I read the post and felt comforted ... ahhh ... I am not the only one who feels this way from time-to-time ... thanks for the companionship, John. And yet, I have to admit, I don’t always I recognize my need to say “No” in the heat of the moment ... sometimes, I need to be reminded, prompted, or straight-out told ... so here’s my lecture on making sure you surround yourself with people who are not afraid to tell you when you’re off your nut ... when you need to slow down and wait for reality to catch up ... or just that you’re being jerk.

I love my job because the one thing I’ve truly strived to do is to make sure that the people in our organization are not afraid to tell me the truth. When I propose a project or initiative that goes off the rails a shade (or an entire color), they let me know. That doesn’t mean that I’m such a benevolent guy that I always remember to invite critique ... but I’ve tried to build the trust into our relationships that allows them to say ... “Um ... Tim ... you know there’s not a chance in Hell that that’ll work without killing morale in the process ...” And then I rant and rave for a couple of minutes until I finally realize that they’re looking at me with eyes that ask “Are you almost done?”

I guess what I’m saying is that the ability to say “No” is usually about humility, and that’s something that few of us have too much of. John was right when he said that the only way to preserve our long-term customer and non-customer (also known as future customer) relationships is to learn when to say “No.” I ‘d like to add that the only way to ensure that we can develop and maintain the entire spectrum of customer relationships is to invite all of the people who work with, for, and around us to be organizational humility touchstones.

A friend of mine once told me that failure to successfully lead people is guaranteed the minute we stop trusting them or start thinking that we’re smarter than they are ...


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