Coaching Companies To Greater Sales & Profits….And An Invitation

We hear a lot about sales strategy and sales management, as though it is something separate from business strategy.   Vistage Speaker Jack Daly encourages us to think of it this way, "a great place to work is a great place to buy". If you are a CEO qualified for Vistage membership and would like to hear Jack's  indepth treatment of this topic, I am inviting 3 CEO guests to attend the September 12th meeting of my Vistage CEO group.  Please contact me at (312) 421-1813 if you would like to see if your company has what it takes (or if you would like to refer a guest). Elisa K. Spain...
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Vistage Confidence Index Results – CEO Confidence Dips

Vistage Confidence Index Results – CEO Confidence Dips

The quarterly Vistage CEO Confidence Index is now available  Here are some highlights: The  Confidence Index was 92.8 in the 2nd quarter 2012 survey, down from 105.1 in the 1st quarter of 2012, repeating the same pattern of decline recorded in the first half of 2011 (105.2 in the 1st quarter of 2011 to 92.9 in the 2nd).  This is the third year that a mid-year slump in confidence has been recorded. The common elements in each year’s retreat have been weakening conditions in the economy as well as concerns over economic policies. Despite the retreat in confidence, the Confidence Index is much closer to its ten-year peak (115.6) than to its low point (48.7). Below are some key highlights from the Q2 Vistage CEO Confidence Index: 30% of CEOs expect overall economic conditions to improve in the next 12 months, 66% of CEOs anticipate sales revenues will increase in the next 12 months. 50% of CEOs expect to add to their staff during the...
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Does A Business Have To Grow?

Does A Business Have To Grow?

This is a topic often discussed amongst my Vistage members. Some want to grow, others like the idea of maintaining a controllable size. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. What I do know is that businesses are organic, and therefore static is not sustainable. We've all seen businesses disappear over time when the owner was not engaged, unaware of changes in the industry, lost a key employee, a new competitor entered the market with a game changing idea, etc. If you accept that static is not sustainable, what to do? If you find that you like the entrepreneur culture, with everyone playing a part in the business, be intentional about it. While you may not want fast growth or a large company, a business has no choice but to continue to evolve and grow, even if it is at a steady pace. If you are in this place, here are my questions for you: Do you have a diversified client base? If not, what steps...
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Vistage Confidence Index: What Do Vistage CEOs Have To Say About The Economy?

Vistage Confidence Index: What Do Vistage CEOs Have To Say About The Economy?

The quarterly Vistage CEO Confidence Index is now available  Here are some highlights: The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 105.1 in the 1st quarter 2012 survey, up from 98.8 in Q4 and 83.5 in Q3 of last year. 75% of CEOs say their sales revenue will increase in the next 12 months. 60% of CEOs expect their firm's profitability to improve during the next 12 months. 59% of CEOs believe recent data showing economic improvement signals a longer-term trend toward economic growth. 60% of CEOs believe that overall economic conditions in the U.S. have improved compared to a year ago. 84% of CEOs have learned to make their business more productive with fewer employees. 57% of CEOs expect their total number of employees will increase in the next 12 months. 30% of CEOs said that if they could start their business over again, they would chose to open it in another state. Click here for the full report. Elisa K. Spain...
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What Results When Leaders Ass-u-me?

What Results When Leaders Ass-u-me?

We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and keep us moving forward. Or so we think. We assume a person attended or didn't attend an event because... We assume a person responded to us a certain way, because... We assume a person took an action or didn't take an action because... What if instead of assuming, we, as CEO's and leaders, paused and asked "What is the reason you made this choice or took this action?" As a leadership coach, I had a recent reminder of the importance of asking, when I assumed a new client made a choice because he was not engaged in our relationship.  I decided to pause and ask the reason for the choice and I learned the choice had to do with his family and had nothing to do with our business relationship. When I was a young driver,  I learned this leadership lesson from a police officer who pulled me over for...
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Laws Of Success: The Answers May Surprise You

Laws Of Success: The Answers May Surprise You

I just finished reading Jim Collins' new book, Great by Choice and as he says, the results may surprise you; they did me. Here's the good news, if you, as CEO,  have ambition, creativity, vision, insight, a good strategy, are innovative, possess a willingness to take risk; in short, all the typical characteristics we attribute to leaders, you can become a standout success. However, and it's a big however, one that certainly caused me as a leadership coach to pause. All the companies Jim Collins and his partner Morten Hansen researched, were led by CEO's with these characteristics - the ones that thrived AND the ones that did not. Here's what he did find that was different about these leaders.  The companies that thrive possess three common characteristics: fanatic discipline empirical creativity productive paranoia As I reflect on the great leaders I have known in my career as a leadership coach,  my surprise at the results fades. The great leaders I know all share these characteristics. Jim drives this point home in chapter 2 as he tells the story...
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Questions Of Culture – What Are Yours?

Questions Of Culture – What Are Yours?

Despite the sticky unemployment numbers, businesses are hiring. See 9/20/11 Blog "The Economic Shift" for a discussion as to some reasons for this dichotomy. Now, back to the point of this post... I am seeing a lot of discussion about the questions to ask in an interview to learn the fit of a potential hire. Two of my favorites, From Bob Herbold, the former Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft Corporation and author of What’s Holding You Back: 10 Bold Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders. When you were young, who was the person that was most influential in teaching you valuable lessons about life? What were those lessons the person taught you? What are those tapes this person put into your head that are still there today and have emerged as guiding principles for you? The lessons you are looking for are basic principles that suggest a high degree of self confidence, a sense of personal responsibility, a strong drive to achieve, and solid fundamental ethics. No hint of these kinds...
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Personality Style Drives Choice

Personality Style Drives Choice

There has been a lot of research over the years about the concept of loss aversion.  This research tells us that we as humans are more likely to prefer choices that avoid a loss than those that achieve a gain. Turns out, research also indicates that our personality style drives our loss aversion behavior. As a leadership coach, I have become a student of personality profiles, thanks to Vistage speaker, Stuart Friedman.   One thing I have learned, is the pace at which people make decisions is driven by their style. Research by Alexander Chernev, Associate Professor of Marketing at Kellogg introduces the theory that personality style not only drives pace, it also drives choice. Chernev’s research involved asking people whether or not they would choose to invest in alternative funds, some with potentially higher yields than ones they already owned. Prevention-focused people—those concerned above all with safety and security—were more likely to stick with the status quo even when they were told that another option...
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Vistage CEO Confidence Index Q42011 Results

Vistage CEO Confidence Index Q42011 Results

After precipitous declines during the prior two quarters, CEO confidence bounced back at year’s end with the largest quarterly gain since the start of the recovery in 2009. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 98.8 in the 4th quarter 2011 survey, up from 83.5 in the 3rd quarter, and reaching the highest level since 105.2 was recorded at the start of 2011. The Q4 2011 Vistage CEO Confidence Index reflects responses from 1,641 US CEOs, surveyed between December 12 and December 22, 2011. Read More Elisa K. Spain...
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Want Greater Success? Nurture Your Butterflies

Want Greater Success? Nurture Your Butterflies

Good leaders always strive to have butterflies in their stomach, says Kathleen L. Flanagan, president and chief executive of Abt Associates, a $450mm consultancy firm. When we are out of our comfort zone, we have the greatest opportunity for success. It's when we become complacent and run on auto-pilot that we as leaders are most at risk of failure. In this interview in The New York Times, Kathleen describes her first big promotion, the first time she managed people, how she had butterflies in her stomach the entire first year, and how she ultimately learned to trust her gut. Her advice is the same advice she heard from her first boss and mentor, the one who gave her that first job. “There is no blueprint, you have to make a plan and be goal oriented. Always have butterflies and always plan for success." To the advice she received from her former boss, Kathleen adds her own wisdom: Be flexible. Listen to people. Give them the...
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