Patti Blackstaffe joined our show this week. You can listen here.
Patti is the President of Strategic Sense. She and her team help you and your team make sense out of your strategy.
Thatʼs the operative word AND. You see 70-80% of employees have no idea what their companyʼs strategy is. And the majority of those who do know, donʼt care. That means most companies have about...6-12% of their employees who both know and care about their companyʼs strategy. That means most companies could double their results if they could make sense out of their strategy in the minds of their employees and have oh, say 12-24% of their employees know and care about their strategy.
Pattiʼs mission is to bring positive change to the human relationship (between managers and their employees and leaders and their customers) crashing open the doors and busting down the barriers to success. The results and solutions shared are as appropriate in big corporate as they are in small business – for gaining momentum and remaining ahead of the competition – because it’s all about relationships. She brings 15 years of experience in Behaviour Management to her clients and a load of tools and resources, tips and habits, to help her clients make sense with their team of their strategy.
Patti was first on the show back in May, 2009. ( You can listen here.) A fabulous guest then and over this past year,she’s continued to expand the value she and her team brings to her clients. And with Facebook and blogs and Twitter....her legions of fans have benefited along the way.
Patti. How are you? Thank you for being on our show.
Thank you, Zane! It is indeed a pleasure to be a return guest on your show, always a pleasure to share with such a gracious host.
Now, let’s jump in to the most important topic and the operative word AND. You just got married. Congratulations. Tell us about the wedding, your lucky groom.
It was truly the perfect day, Zane, all about family and dear friends. It was a day wedding and all the kids brought instruments and they jammed all day – I don’t think I have enjoyed a day quite so much. As for the new husband, he is truly one of those people everyone WANTS to know.
I think the key when we met was his incredible leadership and teaching skills – how attractive to me, of course, .....
You were recently voted one of the world’s top leadership gurus. Rightfully so. Tell us about that.
That was pretty exciting, apparently this organization in the UK sends out over 22000 emails to organizations and individuals and it is decided by vote. What was exciting about it for me was that out of the thirty I fell somewhere around 11, and the only woman within that first 11 people.
Walking the talk now, what are the 3 most important characteristics of a leader? These are the ones that if missing this person cannot be a leader?
• Communicating Expectation
Which is most important?
For the employees, for the families of the employees, for the customer, for the suppliers.
Without the ability to put one’s self into the shoes of another person, we cannot even begin to know how to lead. We lead in all aspects of our lives, but leadership cannot be dictatorship, leadership is about serving, making a difference in the lives of your customers and all stakeholders.
Are empathy skills inherited or developed?
That depends.... but I believe the corporate environment has a tendency to promote what in the private world will not be tolerated. There is a book called The Corporation that describes organizations as pathological in its pursuit of profit and power. It is an exceptional breeding ground for cold decision-making, spreadsheet management and over blown process, much of which could be simplified and humanized.
What’s the impact on an organization if a leader lacks this quality of empathy?
Without empathy, there are some pretty clear results a company will witness.
• Loss of talent – resulting in exhorbitant hiring and training costs
• Loss of engagement – resulting in productivity loss
• Internal discontent – a virus that spreads fast and furious resulting in anger, frustration and employee shut-down.
All of these things are the killer to the organization’s bottom line. When a company’s employees are miserable and wanting out, the customers want the same.
If an organization waits and lets it get to the point of mass exodus, they have let it go far too long. And often it is a horrendous job to clean up – that cleanup can only be driven from the top.
What can we do to correct that? Who can do it? Us, colleagues, companies, schools, parents?
The first step is to begin very young, empathy is built within when we are taught and made to take personal responsibility for our own actions. When we are shown over and over again the effect/affect our actions have on others.
Behaviour creates the culture! Within an organization, the top dog needs to define the desired culture and all behaviour within the organization needs to support that cultural goal. This means, when at any level – I mean every level – behaviours which fray from the cultural goals are stopped immediately. There must be clear consequences and well defined and communicated expectations.
“This is how we treat our people” cannot be empty words without clearly defined actions and consequences to support it.
We talked in our first show about your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future* with starting your business. What was it? Has your success encouraged you to redefine it or expand it.
Originally it was to make a difference in the human experience within organizations – for the leader, for the employee and for the customer. To teach people that improving the human experience, working with passion and allowing your teams to shine will improve the business and allow folks to thrive while rocketing past their competitors.
I expanded in a way I did not expect. One of the really wonderful things that came of my work within large organizations has been my transition into taking those same great strategies and lessons into small businesses. To provide a resource for helping businesses and people of all size organizations to build the relationships that make businesses soar.
What have been some metrics or data that point to your progress on this journey in reaching your hoped-for future?
The ongoing request for more of my information in “product form” and that is coming.
The increase in calls which have been unsolicited.
The enthusiasm with which referrals and references are shared.
You are now a successful startup. Right? And in every startup there are obstacles. The difference with a successful startup is finding solutions or opportunities within those obstacles.
What were your 3 biggest obstacles? And how did you solve them, learn from them?
- Finding resources at a reasonable price
- 2008 Recession and downturn
- Sales – selling self as a product.
Good entrepreneurs dig deep into research at the start to learn “what they need to do” and there is a lot of information out there about that, but few of them actually tell a person HOW. Taking the time to find the manner in HOW to make some of the great ideas happens was a challenge, actually that is why the team was built this year. They are working with small business to give them a very quick and affordable HOW for many of the tasks they struggle to figure out.
I hit on some statistics about the disengagement that exists in companies. And here in the US with the recent recession, it’s become worse.
Why is that?
Anytime fear gets in the way of travel, a whole lot of redirects occur, when what we thought we knew changes is redefined, we become scared.
Say you’re traveling down a road with a destination in mind... and you are pretty sure you know the route, but you only know one. Suddenly, a huge tree the size of a MAC truck falls in your path and you can no longer navigate the same way you always have.
Pretty scary to imagine, without a map, without a GPS, how you are going to get where you were going. You don’t know what road to take, where to turn or whether to just go back.
But you cannot go back....you need to reach your destination. In nothing short of a moment you have forgotten about the singing in the car, about the lunch in the cooler and the entire scenery no longer holds beauty for you as you focus on trying to navigate your way without any idea of how to get there.
Meanwhile the passengers in the car have been told to be quiet while you focus.
The recession seems to have hit organizations the same way. They THOUGHT they knew what they were doing, but what they were doing no longer seems to be working for them, so they find that laser focus, trying to navigate through it and they seem to lose all connection with the people who really make it happen – the employees, suppliers and customers.... they begin to simply start showing indifference to anything that doesn’t seem to be related to the road they are trying to find. And voila, welcome disengagement!
Is it reasonable to expect a cure to that mindset?
An organization that finds a cure stops with the laser focus and starts utilizing the talent they have with them. Something like stopping long enough to ask anyone else in the car if they have ever gone another way or heard of anyone going another way... the resources are all there
• Frontline knows what the customers are saying
• Customers know what they want from you
• Suppliers need to have a vision in order to provide for you the best solutions to meet your demand.
These are the thrivers, these are the ones who will get to their destination regardless of the trees.
One perspective on this economy is that it’s a near total disconnect that exists in most organizations among those responsible for its purpose.
Let’s imagine our president turns to our ally to the north and says Patti. You’re a leadership coach. You help leaders make sense out of strategy for themselves for their organization. You’re one of the best. I need advice from one of the best. We have a national problem in that too many of us cannot make sense out of our strategy. What three things can we do to change that, to make a strategy make sense?
• Drop existing agendas
• Lay the real problems out on the table and use the following criteria to build the strategy
• What is the RIGHT and ethical thing to do for all involved
• Know you will not please everyone, but your choices will not be about what meets the agenda of a specific group.
• Define clear actions everyone can do to get involved in meeting that strategy, something they can rally around, take part in and watch with transparency the results unfolding.
What social media tools do you use?
Why are they important?
Building company and personal branding, credibility and reach.
Which one do you depend on the most?
All of them equally, but for different reasons.
What’s your thoughts on Facebook? Just curious.
It is a great platform, in fact it offers a mini blogging platform of connection that few other sites can offer, but is the platform from which all others were formed. The manner in which it allows people to connect is phenomenal and can be utilized for business to help build those vital relationships companies need to measure their client interest and engagement. The sharing capabilities enable us to see so many things we would not see were it not for the ‘referral’ of our friends.
Let’s talk client leaders and social media. Yes or no. Should leaders use social media?
Depends on the client, I would not recommend it for everyone, just like I would not recommend all or nothing in any kind of activity. It is for the client leader who is interested in building a relationship with their employees, customers, potential customers and people interested in their industry. It is an amazing place to ‘give back’ and offer something of yourself, your knowledge and allows people to learn you are human just like them.
But remember, not everyone is personable; someone with the bedside manner of Dr. House could certainly do more damage than good using social media. I also believe it is imperative people know WHY they wish to use social media. Do they want to hear feedback, share news, offer specials, etc. A great analysis of what is “missing” in their organization may very well lead directly to one social media platform that will fill that hole.
Why do so many still turn up their noses at it?
Fear, legal, personal, technical.... It is a new world, and old world business does not fit within the social media world. Those Businesses that are not aware Gen. Y is a global community of people who share “almost” everything and love to collaborate at a distance, they cannot see it. Businesses who do not operate with transparency and openness, but protect everything right down to strategy and direction, they cannot imagine being placed in a situation where anything are shared... and there are still a ton of organizations like that.
How do you council a leader in their first steps of social media’s use?
Just as I council them with people... begin by listening, don’t be too hasty to leap in without knowing the culture, the environment and the accepted norms. Slowly integrate yourself into the environment just as you would with any new culture.
Once you have a handle on what NOT to do, and those things will be made evident because social media folks take no prisoners, they will call out a spammer or an annoying follower in a minute. Avoid the traps you have learned and begin slowly, getting to know people and learning who they are... life is about relationships, you build them slowly.
Leaders are readers. You’re a leader and I know you’re an avid reader. What’s been the best thing you’ve read this year. 3 books or sites, business or not, fiction or non.
I am a rabid study of human behaviour, so I do spend a lot of time on books that truly provide information and learning for me, I thrive on them.
I am currently reading a great book called Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin.... this is the most intelligent read I have had about oil and it’s role in the world – especially in light of the disaster in the gulf, I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t understand the decisions made that surround oil in general.
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, brothers, who make a very good case as to how to make your idea, company, product sticky, so people cannot live without it.
The Element by sir Ken Robinson... how finding your passion changes everything.... it describes very vividly how we as a society have neither honoured or respected the need for creativity in our world, we beat it out of our kids, we fail to reward for creativity and it is considered an intangible, but is truly the bases behind all great innovation and change.
Not all of my guests do this. But you regularly share some great quotes on leadership and customer service. What’s your recent favorite quote?
It is an old quote but is applicable in so many ways... it is by Jim Rohn, one of the best motivators I know, a man who truly understood “strategic Sense”
“Character isn’t something you were born with and cannot change, like your finger prints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.”
Where are you speaking?
Mostly private corporate gigs at the moment, because of the wedding and upcoming summer I have kept the time more relaxed. We are booking into End of November, however, and one can email us at info at strategicsense.ca for our rates and schedule.
Where can we follow you on the web?
Our website, Strategic Sense. That site can link you to any of our social media platforms, our blog or services. We are doing a lot more remote coaching over skype for executives, directors and managers, and they are finding this rather convenient.
Patti, thanks for talking with us! As always, you're a gracious and inspiring guest and leader!
* reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future is the term coined by Erika Andersen in her book Being Strategic.