Retail Observer

July 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM JULY 2014 44 M ost writers will tell you to avoid clichés—over-used statements, phrases or metaphors. This language luggage can become tired, timeworn and invite scorn or disengagement. But there's a reason these became clichés—at one time, and perhaps even now, that initial idea or thought contained something elementary and basic that rang true: the metaphors of the pioneering journey or the climb to the mountaintop are apropos for what it sometimes feels like in organizational life. So, we persist in using them until we might come up with something better. IT'S LONELY AT THE TOP For example, often when I work one-on-one with my clients, I tell them there's a reason they say 'it's lonely at the top,' because it is lonely, and often the higher you go in an organization, or the way one feels as an entrepreneur or a business owner, is isolating. You need to make tough decisions, often with incomplete information. You have to take risks and ultimately, you have to take ownership of the outcome, whether you are successful or whether you fail. This is why leaders need peer groups, coaches and accountability partners. They need a place to go with their questions, feelings and concerns, and it feels (and often is) too risky to do it with those we are leading. It is often lonely at the top, cliché or not. ON THE SAME PAGE I offer many ideas about aligning your team with your vision and company's mission in my book, The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, but this cliché is often over- used so much that people ignore it. Yet, what are the costs of your team not moving forward toward your growth and goals together? What happens when people are at cross-purposes or have a different idea of priorities for how to spend their time or the decisions they need to make? Many companies and teams suffer from lower revenues and profits, decreased employee engagement and inconsistent customer loyalty when everyone is not on the same page. It's the leader's job, over and over, to create the consistent messaging about purpose, goals, outcomes, vision and mission. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Another cliché I often hear is leaders encouraging their teams and people to think outside the box. What are we calling forth when we ask people to do this, and is it relevant for us today? Are we looking for innovation? Creativity? A challenge of the status quo? Of course! One way to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace is by examining our business strategy—products, services and relationships—and asking, "how can we do this differently from what we are doing now?" and the follow-up questions: what will this cost? What are the benefits or risks? All of this sort of thinking requires a different sort of environment, a different sort of process, because doing what we do, the same way over and over, often will not produce anything other than what we've had in the past. Are you supporting the OOTB (Out-of-the-box) thinking you say that you want? Consider this: 1. Where are places you feel you and your team could be more creative in your approach or vision? 2. Are you facilitating and supporting "blue sky" discussions or activities free from slipping into tactics or implementation? (They're not good bedfellows and need their own space and time!) 3. Where are you revisiting the creativity and innovation that already exists, but you're stuck because you think it's working "okay?" (i.e. if it ain't broke . . . another cliché!) Innovation is not enough. You and your team need to constantly court the Creative Edge to sustain a viable, thriving business with delighted, loyal customers. Examine these common clichés to see where you might have some room for growth and development of your team. Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. RO CLAIM THAT CLICHÉ: THREE FOR CULTURE CHANGE

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