Monday, March 10, 2008

Dare to be Different

At the end of a relatively uneventful conference (The Staffing Industry’s Executive Forum ) was a keynote speech given by Kevin Freiberg about succeeding by daring to be radically different. Dr. Freiberg, Executive Coach and Author of a book called “Guts, Companies That Blow The Doors Off Business-As-Usual”, spoke on doing things differently and why that matters. I am fortunate enough to work with people creating an environment like this at Bond. See a great example in today’s NYT article about Ben Bergman’s efforts to use Facebook to create an extended network for Blood Donation.

Kevin’s challenge to us is to :

“Blow the doors off business as usual …. it takes guts to do things different and lead with love and trust vs abstract opportunity and fear.”

He says that change happens with leadership 1st and challenges us to decide what about us has to change in order to create a work place where people come and are fully engaged and clients are passionate about telling our story.

To me leadership does not necessarily mean management.
The core of his message about how to differentiate your service is that
“no advertising is as trusted as the spontaneous testimony of a delighted client! Clients and candidates are telling your story, would you be proud of what they are saying?”

What principles and practices are setting companies apart?
That does not mean you have to provide a radically different product or process. Being good, hard working and likable will usually get the job done. Consultants love to make business sound really complicated and throw in some 3D charts and graphs. But, clients (and candidates) choose to do business with people who are competent and can provide value and who they also like. Can you make your client feel better, or laugh? Do you lend an ear when they need one?

Do you go above and beyond, even better but not mandatory….

I am fortunate that we have some great leadership in our organization and some great stories to tell. I hope are being shared with our clients and candidates.

We have developed a dedicated culture that enables us to respond to candidates and client requests on a Monday or a Sunday within minutes; where it is not unusual to find someone online in the middle of the night working on a client request; where our recruiters are deliver 16 point data summaries to their clients to ensure the client has enough candidate information at their fingertips. Most importantly a culture that values and supports our community. See Ben's article referenced above.

Kevin asks:
what makes you unforgettable?

and continues with...
“ Lots of people are selling same service. Be radically different … That takes courage. Someone may tell you that's not the way we do things here... but If we took you away, would you be missed? Or would the transition to another firm be seamless if your firm didn’t exist”

The examples he uses to make his point:
Southwest airlines would be missed because they lower airfares
Harley Davidson would be missed.
Starbucks would be missed.
If we took you away, would you be missed?

Can you make hiring fun? You would get your story told.

Leaders are found at every level of an organization. Tomorrow’s CEOs are today’s assistants. They get there because they have guts. They are able to differentiate themselves with a positive presence and strong performance . There is a place they want to get to and they have a sense of urgency to get there.

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