14 Sep 2016

Nothing But the Truth

by Paul Adams

Does it ever frustrate you that you keep asking questions but, in your heart, you don’t feel like you are getting the WHOLE TRUTH in the answers? It’s like something is missing…

It happens all the time.

It’s not dishonesty on their part. In fact, often, it happens because of the level of respect or admiration they have for a leader.

And, ironically, the person who hears less truth than anyone can, often, be the person who needs to hear it the most. The leader, owner, CEO.

You know, the person who can make the biggest impact with the least amount of information.

Recently, a CEO asked us to visit with some of the top field leaders in his company to see if we could gain any insights from them that, perhaps, they would not share with him or other top executives.

You know… questions like, What are they REALLY doing? Why are they doing it? Do they think the tools / materials provided by the company are useful? Things like that.

This CEO recognized something about human nature:  If you really like someone and admire them, you may not be willing to “tell it like it is,” even when asked. A certain level of respect can, often, keep us first from questioning decisions that adversely affect the outcome, and then from voicing opinions counter to those decisions.

The classic fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, comes to mind.

I have to say that I admire the leader / CEO who understands this and is willing to introduce an “outsider” to his leaders in order to find ways to improve.

Back to the meeting…

We spent nearly 4 hours with a group of highly engaged distributors, comprising of some with previous industry experience as well as first-timers.  All had achieved a high level of success in this company.

They communicated well with each other. They felt like they were all on the same team rather than competing against one another. All admired the owner/ CEO and wanted to do all they could to “make him proud” of the company. Heck, they WERE proud of him and proud to be part of the company. Lots of warm and fuzzy feelings.

AND, they also believed the company was making some decisions that were hindering their growth.

It’s amazing how people will “open up” to strangers but NOT tell a beloved CEO how they feel.

Ironically, some of the decisions were things that the owner/ CEO absolutely KNEW the field would love.

In an effort to take great steps toward “first-class” tools and materials, the CEO had overlooked the fact that the people who were growing the business admired the original, more “genuine” story– not the flashy, polished one that was now being presented via the kits, videos, web site and social media.

They felt the story now being used had “lost the heart” of who they are and was definitely not the company they signed up for.

WOW! That’s huge.

The disconnect between what the CEO thought the field wanted and what the field was REALLY attracted to was enormous. And, the slowing growth was the first evidence of it.

This sort of thing happens a lot. Execs sit in their offices and in conference rooms, talking to each other about changes that need to be made. And, often, they lose sight of what the field and the prospects really find appealing.

As I mentioned in the last blog, when it’s time to rebrand and / or update your message, it’s CRUCIAL to ask a lot of questions of the people who will be impacted by the changes. You know, the people actually building the business. Remember them?

Before making these sweeping changes, get a broad perspective from varying points of view.

Ask your internal corporate team, your field leadership, new IBOs, rising stars, customers, etc.

And, whatever you do, do not let any single group determine the direction— even if you agree with them. Rather, use all the “data points” to help steer the ship.  That input will help you determine how far you need to go from your current direction in order to achieve the goals you have.

In the end, it’s YOUR decision. But to get the best results, get input.

Sometimes, the consensus is to make drastic changes. Other times, it will involve small directional tweaks.

You won’t know until you ask. And to get the most accurate responses, you may be wise to have an outsider ask.