LSA Global Insights Newsletter

1.27.2018

Top Coaching Mistakes: Is It Possible that What You Learned About Coaching is Wrong?

a businessman is falling off a ladder because his coach did not avoid coaching mistakes

For many leaders, the notion that coaching is an essential ingredient in improving performance is not up for debate. 
But while the debate about the necessity of coaching may be over, most leaders and managers - if they're honest - will tell you that they barely have time to manage the work - and they just don't have time to coach. With that reality as the backdrop, we want to pose this question: 

What if you could cut your coaching time in half and get better results?
In our 20+ years of working with executives and front line managers, we've identified what we consider to be the top two mistakes that hinder effective coaching...mistakes that, if avoided, will greatly simplify the coaching process and minimize the time it takes to effectively develop your people.
  1. Developing the Wrong People
  2. Measuring Behaviors Instead of Outcomes 
Mistake #1 - Developing the Wrong People
Who is responsible for improving performance?  You or your direct reports? Obviously you are responsible for the overall results of your team.  But are you responsible for each team member's willingness to improve? 

Absolutely not. 

Here's a critical principle for effective coaching. If you grasp this, it will not only shift the primary burden of change to your people, but it will ultimately save you countless hours of wasted time spent trying to develop the wrong people:  

Desire Determines Development.
Change is difficult.  It takes work. When an employee doesn't have the desire to do the difficult work required to reach a new level of performance, coaching is futile. Desire, not talent or skill, is the only ticket required to enter a coaching session.

The responsibility of the coach is to be prepared and available.  But if the person is unwilling to put in the effort to improve, what's the point? And that means more than just going through the motions. If that's all that happens, change will never occur. 

They Seemed Like They Wanted to Change
But you may be asking, "How do I know if the person is really willing to change?" This is an important question and highlights a gap in most coaching sessions. 

In a coaching session, the "fork in the road" is the clear action plan at the end of the session that ensures the person has a specific assignment to address specific knowledge or skill gaps.  

Unfortunately, most coaching sessions are little more than discussions about the previous call...with the manager offering a few tips and reminders on how to improve. While it is always helpful to review critical information, "talking" has very little impact on developing new skills and habits. For people to change, they have to "do." 
  • To learn to swing a golf club, you have to practice swinging a golf club. Talking about it simply won't help. 
  • It may help you choose the right club but it won't change the quality of your swing.  
Therefore, every coaching session should end with a clear plan to improve - a developmental activity - with an agreed-upon completion date and a specific goal. By drawing a line in the sand (what is required to improve) an employee's desire is determined. 

Attitude Is Irrelevant
Their true willingness is exposed by their engagement in the assignment. This approach opens the door to a whole new way of thinking about where to invest your time. 

Assessing an employee's desire and embracing the idea that desire is a requirement for coaching, allows you to categorize your team members and develop an effective development strategy for each role.  



Voice of the Customer

"LSA's executive coach based his approach on understanding our business circumstances and strategy, as well as our leadership aspirations. The customized coaching covered all aspects of leadership, it was not simply a touchy-feely endeavor. In fact, the focus on clear business outcomes and real life circumstances challenged me to develop my thinking and actions related to leading the business. The sessions were a great way to focus my thinking, gain insight and reinvigorate my leadership and impact."
Janet Pagano | Managing Director | Ovid Winery

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Leadership Toolkit

handyman tools to avoid coaching mistakes

How Is Your Leadership Toolkit?
Great leaders typically have a robust leadership toolkit.  But, because leaders must lead within unique strategic contexts and organizational cultures, we believe there is not a simple or replicable formula for great leadership. 

Great Leaders Create Strategic Clarity
One of the first tools in a great leader's toolkit is the ability to rally the troops around a clear, compelling and implementable strategy.  Our organizational alignment research found strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing leaders.  The leadership toolkit contains three articles on the latest thinking regarding strategic clarity for leaders.

Great Leaders Build an Aligned and High Performance Culture
The second component in a great leader's toolkit is the ability to shape a workplace culture for their team that aligns with and enables strategy execution.  Because strategy must go through culture and people to be successful, great leaders ensure the culture accelerates their strategic priorities.  The leadership toolkit contains three articles on the latest thinking regarding clear, consistent and aligned culture.

Great Leaders Differentiate Talent
The third tool in a great leader's toolkit is the ability to attract, develop, engage and retain the right talent to thrive in their unique culture and carry out the strategy .  Great leaders know that different talent contributes differently and act accordingly.  The leadership toolkit contains three articles on the latest thinking regarding talent management best practices for leaders.

The Bottom Line
Great leaders:
  • Create strategic clarity by ensuring all key stakeholders clearly understand and commit to a direction that can be  consistently implemented throughout the organization. 
  • Build aligned and high performance cultures by ensuring their teams clearly understand what is expected and how that behavior drives success.
  • Differentiate top talent by ensuring they attract, develop, engage and retain people who will thrive in their unique environment.
If you would like to take your leadership thinking to the next level, this Leadership Toolkit for you.


https://imgssl.constantcontact.com/letters/images/sys/S.gif

Voice of the Customer

"LSA's ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their leaders and execution to the next level."
Rob Sturgeon | Executive Vice President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


12.30.2017

Top 10 Strategy, Culture & Talent Downloads of 2017




Wishing you good times, good cheer, and a memorable new year.


Thank you from all of us at LSA Global for your business, loyalty, and
support in 2017. We have enjoyed helping you to create a competitive advantage through people.

We hope you enjoy these top 10 downloads from 2017.




About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

11.25.2017

How to Accelerate Growth through Target Clients


Arrow headed to a target to show How to Accelerate Growth through Target Clients

Ideal Target Clients Create More Profitable Revenue 
Customers who "fit" better than others consistently produce higher revenue, greater profits and more consistent satisfaction - internally and externally. This is the consequence of shorter sales cycles, less problems, more rewarding relationships, better results, and more referrals. 

Do Not Try to Be All Things to All People
While many leaders and professionals do not want to leave "money on the table" and feel compelled to chase every opportunity to foster growth, a study by Hinge Marketing confirms that narrowing the focus of both your services and clients improves, rather than hinders, growth. 

Consider the following: 
  • Differentiation: High Growth firms were almost three times more likely to have strong differentiators in the eyes of their customers. 
  • Offerings: High Growth firms were 62% more likely to be highly specialized in terms of service offerings.
  • Clients: High Growth firms were almost three times as likely to be highly specific and detailed about identifying and working with ideal target clients. 
What Does that Mean for Me?
If you are unclear about your ideal customers and what differentiates you (in their eyes) from your competition, then here are a few steps to consider. Remember, it is all about the customer, not about you or your "stuff."

Identifying What Differentiates You
Some people call this a unique value proposition (UVP) or unique selling proposition (USP). Regardless of what you call it, it is worth the time and effort to determine what specifically makes you better (from your customers' perspective) than your competition and from the other available alternatives by answering the following questions: 
  1. Why specifically (from the client's point of view) is your offering better than other alternatives? 
  2. Why do your customers fundamentally want and need what you have to offer? 
  3. What specifically do you have to ensure confidence that your claim of being better, faster or cheaper is true? (i.e. client case studies, research, testimonials and stories showing relevant and differentiated benefits and results).
Be as specific, simple, and clear as possible about what sets you apart from your competition. Companies typically differentiate themselves in the areas of "better, faster, or cheaper." 


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Are You Set Up to Reach Your Sales Targets?

Business man getting shot thru a cannon to reach sales targets

90% of Revenue Targets Increase Each Year
Nine-out-of-ten of our sales clients report their sales targets increase each year.  

The Majority of Sales Reps Have Low Conviction Levels
While ninety percent of sales targets will increase next year, the majority of sales reps do not believe that their sales targets (and thereby their potential rewards) are clear, relevant, meaningful, fair or possible based upon the current sales strategy, sales culture or sales talent.

The Good News
Strategic sales clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams and can double sales force commitment and conviction levels once target clients, differentiation, strategies, goals, roles and success metrics are defined.

The Bad News
Not enough sales leaders invest the time and thinking required to help their sales teams move from selling a product to selling a business solution.

The Bottom Line
Winning sales teams:
  • Create go-to-market sales clarity by ensuring all key stakeholders clearly understand and commit to a winning go-to-market sales strategy that can be  consistently implemented throughout the organization. 
  • Build aligned and high performance sales cultures by ensuring their teams clearly understand what is expected and how that behavior drives the sales strategy forward.
  • Differentiate top sales talent by ensuring they attract, develop, engage and retain top sales talent.
If you would like to know how your sales practices stack up for high growth, this Sales Best Practices Health Check is for you.

Want to see how you are doing? 

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

9.30.2017

5 Expert Tips to Better Communicate Your Strategic Plan

graphic of a man confused by too many megaphones trying to communicate to him

High performing organizations understand that it is critical for employees at every level to align with and authentically support the key goals of the company. 

If employees don't fully subscribe to the corporate plan, how can you expect your current and potential customers, investors and partners to get on board? 

Who Is Responsible for Communicating and Cascading the Strategy?
We believe it is the leadership team's responsibility to find the most effective ways to communicate and cascade the strategic priorities to each and every employee. 

What Does NOT Work?
Let's start with what does not work in terms of communicating and cascading a corporate strategy, idea or initiative.  
  • Perceived Complexity: While complexity certainly exists in most businesses and industries, the message and expectations you want to communicate must be simple and clear. 
  • The Air of Impossibility: While stretch goals certainly have their place when combined with the proper cultural ingredients, plans and targets that most find unbelievable will sabotage your efforts. 
  • Communication Alone: While communication (along with training) is certainly a necessary and helpful tool, it typically does not change hearts and minds by itself.
Posters, Slogans, Emails, Town Halls and Newsletters Are Not Enough
If it were only a matter of communication, CEOs could simply share a compelling presentation with their direct reports about the company's strategy. However, organizations that rely solely on a communication plan or leave it up to managers to put the strategy and plan in context for their front-line employees are bound to be disappointed.

What Does Work
Just think about it. If your executive team took weeks to prepare for and days to discuss, debate and create a new strategic direction, how can you expect the rest of the organization--those with less experience, less access, and less context-to jump on board without the benefit of similar discussions and a similar process? 

If you want your teams to fully understand, believe in and execute your plans for the upcoming year, involve them in the same type of discussions, debates and design decisions you conducted as an executive team for their departments, functions and teams.

The Bottom Line
While you must be clear about what areas are up for debate or nuance at the department and team levels, when it comes to communicating and cascading strategies so they actually get executed, our best advice is to go slow to go fast. 

Want to improve the overall effectiveness of your communications?



Voice of the Customer

"Having tripled in size and recently merged, we needed expert advice. LSA helped our executive team increase our level of alignment, solidify our new direction and push our agency forward. The critical few strategic actions combined with how we differentiate ourselves to our top accounts and target clients have really set us on a great path to success. This is exactly what we needed to get to the next level."
Matt Britton | CEO | MRY, a Publicis Groupe Company


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


The Characteristics of Strategic Clarity

Graphic of a man in a balloon basket with a light bulb of strategic clarity carrying him above the clouds

Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing leaders.
What Strategic Clarity Looks Like
When leaders create strategic clarity, their teams clearly understand the strategy, have no doubt that leadership is fully committed to it, and believe the strategy is being implemented successfully across the entire organization.

The Big Picture and Golden Thread
As a leader, you know you are on the right track in terms of strategic clarity when employees:
  • Can clearly articulate the company's business strategy - the what, the how and the why = The Big Picture
  • Understand how their work and the work of their team directly contribute to company, team and individual success = The Golden Thread
The Details - Strategy Execution
As a leader, you will know you are on the right track in terms of strategic implementation when each and every team:
  • Agrees with the strategic priorities.
  • Sees a high degree of strategic relevance with what you are trying to do and how you are going to do it.
  • Consistently commits to the strategic priorities. 
  • Feels control and influence over their strategic plans. 
  • Understands which strategic objectives are mandated and where there is wiggle room. 
  • Has an avenue to discuss potentially important areas to their department that have not been included.
  • Perceives little to no conflict with their department's goals or metrics.
  • Thinks that the strategy and the team are up to the challenge of the objectives. 
Want to see how you are doing?




Voice of the Customer

"This was an extremely effective strategy session that helped our executive team navigate through our core objectives. It was exactly what we needed, and the approach was practical and valuable for our specific business and market. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to push their ability to implement and cascade strategic plans to the next level."
Blake Krikorian | CEO | Sling Media

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


8.26.2017

How to Optimize Sales Performance in the Face of Increased Pressure

You need to optimize sales performance to  stay in the race and win.

Sales and sales strategies have become more important and more complex in the last few years.

Although there are hundreds of technology platforms available to support sales teams and sales leaders, most sales forces struggle to optimize sales performance in the face of these challenges:


  • Intense competitive pressures and rapid shifts in the marketplace
  • Increased commoditization and pricing pressure
  •  More savvy buyers with greater expectations and information
  •  Greater difficulty consistently attracting, developing, engaging and retaining top sales talent that fit the sales strategy
  • Growing internal pressure to focus on short-term performance at the expense of long-term health and success

For sales leaders willing to look beyond a weekly sales forecast, there are a few smart moves you can make to greatly optimize sales performance. The key is to align sales strategy, culture and talent. Our recent organizational alignment research found that sales leaders across all industries who achieve this three-part alignment grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable and retain customers 2.23-to-1 compared to their less aligned peers.

The good news is that sales growth is within reach. 

Sales Strategy
It all starts with sales strategy. Our research found strategic sales clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales organizations. High performing sales leaders start by creating a sales strategy that outlines clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take. Done right, a successful sales plan sets a sales force up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts because it creates ruthless focus and alignment.  

You will know that you are headed in the right direction in terms of clarity when your sales strategy outlines:

  • Target Clients: Where you should win the majority of the time. 
  • Differentiation: What differentiates you from the competition in the eyes of your target clients in a way that drives premium pricing, increases qualified lead generation and improves customer retention.
  • Success Metrics: How sales success and failure will be measured at the corporate, team and individual levels. This includes identifying how sales, marketing and other functions need to work together to execute the sales strategy gracefully with your customers' best interests at heart.
  • Sales Processes: Which critical few sales processes matter most in terms of meeting your sales targets and executing your sales strategy.  
  • Sales Barriers: What top 10 barriers to overcome for sales success during the next 12 to 36 months.
  • Action Plan: How, specifically, to execute your sales strategy and surmount the key barriers based upon your identified strategic priorities. 

If you want to optimize sales performance, start by creating a clear, believable and implementable sales strategy that is aligned with the overall business strategy. The clarity will lead to better decisions and greater levels of empowerment to serve your target clients.  

Make sure your sales leaders leave no doubt that they are fully committed to the plan before you move into implementation mode. 

Want to learn more about how to optimize sales strategy, download the Full Sales Performance Article Now

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Business Sales Training Programs Need Sales Coaching to Succeed

You need a coach for business sales training programs to take you to your next peak of performance.

Sales success can be elusive. 

Based upon having measured sales training programs for the last 20 years, we believe that business sales training programs on their own are often an exercise in futility.

Sure, customized and targeted business sales training programs help sales reps to become more aware of what it takes to perform and the gain the specific consultative selling skills they need to succeed. But our research shows that business sales training program participants must be consistently held accountable, must believe the new skills and knowledge are required for them to succeed, and must have a competent sales coach to help them improve.  Without all three, only 20% sales reps change their behavior from business sales training.

Processes must be implemented to measure the progress of each sales rep and to encourage skill adoption when it matters most. And, to ensure continuous learning, each sales rep needs a sales performance coach who can provide the support to improve.

What does it take to be an effective sales coach...the kind of coach that capitalizes on and is a necessary part of any business sales training program?

1.  Believability. 
A sales coach is believable only if they have not only “carried a bag” successfully, but also if they have successfully managed and coached other sales force’s before. Sales coaches need to know what it takes to motivate and support behavior change in a way that works for each coachee. 

2.  Performance. 
The fundamental purpose of a sales coach is to help improve sales performance in a way that aligns with both the sales strategy and sales culture.  Make sure that expectations are clear, goals are defined and progress is tracked along the way.

3.  Feedback. 
The best sales coaches provide a mirror into strengths and weaknesses and focus on improving future performance. They know how to encourage with authentic, timely, accurate, and precise insights, feedback and encouragement.

If you want to improve skill adoption from your business sales training programs, incorporate targeted sales coaching into your training design.  Reps who receive consistent and frequent sales coaching outsell their peers 4-to-1.

Want to learn more about supporting solution selling training skill adoption and performance improvement?  Download The Truth about Sales Coaching and the Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned