Outside-In® Chronicles: Originally published in September 2009, this was the first blog posted on the Outside-In® Guy Blog. How did he react after revisiting his writing from six years ago? “I want people to know that I believe in this and fail at it too. But I get back to it. This is the hardest part of being a leader for me. I want to protect and shoulder the burden, but we can’t. We must share because others can help!”
Living “from the heart” is Leading from the heart
I was taught to live life from the heart. To lead from it. To sell from it. Parent from the heart. You get the point. So much about business life mimics the rest of life. Insert _____ from the heart in all aspects of your life. It requires honesty, directness in communication and perhaps most importantly, some humility. It requires you to give it away and take risks. So much about sales and leadership today is anything but “from the heart” behavior. Leaders today are operating more efficiently because they must do so to survive.
The opportunity is to include employees further in the business. They can take it. They want the truth. Anything short of the truth creates doubt and issues in clarity when it is needed most. I have made mistakes with this as a leader. Not to hide something. But because I thought they deserved a break from the pain of the recession. I let up a little. I softened the bad news. I told them it was under control — and it was not. I got real and they engaged.
Today information is not to be kept as advantage; it is best shared so the team can utilize it to better the business. Leaders need to admit mistakes, not blame others. During times of uncertainty, leaders revert to hierarchy as a means of maintaining control and making sure there is order. People have jobs to do, they can’t be worried with the strategic challenges of the business. This is a major error in judgement. Outside-In® leaders get others involved. They seek opinion. They learn that control comes from giving it away.
Leading from the heart in an Outside-In® organization requires a change in most leaders’ way of operating. Employees know the difference between the corporate line and real communication. Employees know what is plastic. Guess what? So do prospects. Sales people that try and dump their products on their prospects without involving them in the decision don’t make the sale. Those that look and sound like the stereotypical images of sales people fail. There is only one way to build business and that is by building relationships based on trust and credibility. Where real conversation solves real business problems. I find when I am myself, flawed, direct, open and imperfect in sales that people like it, and you often get real in return!