Friday, October 26, 2007

Built with Passion

If you asked me to rank the things that I love about what I get to do for a living, working on and providing resources for professional and leadership development to those within our organization would be at the top of my list. Building our organization from within is our goal. Effective developmental programs and succession planning will afford us the opportunity to make this a reality, while constructing a solid organizational foundation of leadership.

Building an organization that has strong leadership requires daily involvement through active mentoring and coaching as well as structured developmental programs. The leadership within your organization has to be devoted to the practice for it to become ingrained within the organization's culture. Those of us in a leadership role know that it can be a battle to find the time to make this commitment. My opinion is that leadership's involvement in the developmental process is so critical that organizations can only become successful at the practice when their leader's routinely demonstrate their passion for the process. I know I have written the following statement in previous blog entries, but people truly do "emulate their leaders." A leader's actions, or lack thereof, will create cultural drivers that will lead to a business having strong leadership and good succession planning or not.

From my perspective, it is of great joy to reflect on the times I have had the opportunity to be directly involved in an individual's professional development process. It should be a great source of pride when those that you work with on development embrace the principals that they are taught and utilize those skills to achieve higher levels of success and responsibility. I am exceptionally proud when these folks are recognized and rewarded for their contributions. One of the best feelings in the world is to watch individuals with whom you share your own personal thoughts and lessons, which you have learned from experience and mentors, achieve his or her professional goals. That is how you build and leave your professional legacy. Pretty cool stuff!

What has been your most rewarding experience when serving in a mentoring role?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apples to Apples

It is extremely helpful and potentially humbling when you get to hear feedback from your customers and those who are in positions or roles to support your customers. One recent such experience created an opportunity for our business to better educate our sales representatives on how to ask questions about our customers results given the nature of our product verses that of the competition.

In the vertical space of transportation recruitment, most publishers (both print and online) typically only offer a national presence. One unique factor of our product, Careers in Gear the magazine and, is that it is published regionally as to give national, regional and local recruiters a better means by which to target their message based on geographical needs. We do not force a national buy. A lot of our customers do not recruit for drivers on a national scale. In fact, we have customers that recruit on a national scale, but may only be using us in one regional zone. This is where we have to be very careful in how we educate our customers to view our results and their ROI when using our product compared to the competition. It is our responsibility to work close enough with our clients to have a better understanding of how they are measuring their results. In the end, meeting our customers needs is ultimately our goal as to earn their business in the future. That means we have to accurately know how our customers define their goals and expectations as far as our ability to live up to their expectations. Just as important is our ability to have the knowledge of what other products and services our clients are utilizing to meet the same need and how they will be comparing results. With regards to our Careers in Gear the magazine and, we have learned of examples where customers have been comparing our results within one region to those of other products that only offer a national presence. While we outperform these competitors within a region, they might have delivered a greater response, just not within the specific area of need. ROI within the area of need was better using our products. It is our job to point this out to our customer and to educate our customer on looking at our products and services on an "apples-to-apples" basis.

The transportation industry is a terrific industry in which to be conducting business. While attending the 2007 American Trucking Association's Management Conference and Exposition, I had the opportunity to speak with many leaders within the industry. I appreciate the time and feedback that everyone gave me and others within our business. We look forward to working closely with our current customers and those that we will be serving in the future. We will continue to invest in the ongoing research and development of our current suite of products and products that are future-focused in nature to meet the dynamic needs of the driver recruitment industry.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Core Values

What are the core values that define your organization? As a leader your actions and decisions should support your organizational core values. Our core values, which are all in support of our ability to meet our customers' needs and to provide award winning customer service, are to always be devoted to the professional development of our people, to maintain a high level of fiscal responsibility and to grow revenue. All three of these items add up to providing excellent products and services that are of great value to our customers. It is important that those in leadership positions within our organization focus on these attributes as they lead their teams towards accomplishing our goals in a local market in any of our 55 offices across the United States. While the path to accomplishing our goals might be different in each market, the road on which each leader in our organization travels is paved with the same asphalt.

I strongly believe that the core values of an organization define the leaders of that organization. Our core values can also be attributed to the individuals who were involved in the professional development of our current leaders. I for one am reminded of the lessons I have learned from those who have been in a mentoring role over the course of my career on almost a daily basis. It is easy for an organization or leadership within an organization to proclaim that it is devoted to the ongoing professional development of its people. It is much harder to actually execute this philosophy and to keep it ingrained into an organization's culture. I have a high degree of respect for those who are successful in making this a reality. A good barometer is in the number of folks who have been promoted from within an organization. A good leader always promotes the need for ongoing professional development to his or her folks so these individuals can get promoted. One way a leader can make this happen is to never stop working on his or her own professional development. An organization will take on the personality of its leaders. If you, as a leader, continue to work on your development, those that you lead will be more receptive to emulating this practice. Likewise, if you routinely show up late for work, it will become less important to those who work for you to be on time. People emulate their leaders. This is extremely important for those in leadership roles to remember whether at the office, after work, on the weekend, etc.

Every action that you do is, in some sense, like a ritual that celebrates the values that you hold.- Dr. Matthew Basston, Ethics Instructor

What are the core values of your organization? If you cannot answer this question quickly, make time to answer this question. Use your answers as a guide to make better decisions that will always be in support of what your organization is trying to accomplish.