Monthly Archives: April 2013

Positional Power vs. Persuasional Leadership

Real leaders know that they have great power, but they seldom use it.  As the owner or senior manager of your business, you have power over your employees by virtue of your position in the organizational structure.  You have positional power.    If you lead only using positional power, you are just a boss.  Any idiot can do that!

There is an old story that I heard years ago, but the significance eluded me until I was much older.  A young man is walking down the street and he sees and old man pulling a rope behind him.  He stops the old man and asks him, “Why are you pulling that rope?”  The old man replies, “Son, did you ever try pushing one?”

Real leaders understand that the only real power that they have to effectively grow quality businesses and teams is the power of persuasion.  Persuasion is pulling the rope, and positional power is pushing the rope.  We all know that, in the final analysis, you can’t push the rope.  If you want employees, use your position and boss them around; if you want team members, involve them and explain to them what you are doing and why.  Never lead with threats and fear — it simply doesn’t work!!


In the days before railroads, the fastest mode of public transport in Europe was what we might call a stagecoach.  Most Americans remember this from western TV shows and movies.  In Europe, however, the coaches were larger, carried more people, and were often pulled by seven or eight horses.  The French version of the coach was known as the carrosse de diligence — or “speed coach.”

Do you see the root of our notion of diligence there?  When a Frenchman wanted to get somewhere as quickly as possible, he took the diligence.  When we want to get something done “on time and under budget,” we work diligently.  Diligence is an important part of any successful life.  If we are to enjoy successful relationships and businesses, diligence must be one of the core competencies we develop and employ.

So — what are the key aspects of diligence?

First, diligence requires that we be intentional about what we do.  We can’t have a laisse-faire attitude.  When my wife and I were raising our children, we parented them “intentionally.”  Nothing was left to choice or guesswork.

Second, diligence requires a level of intense focus.  When we are being diligent, we never use a shotgun.  We always choose a sniper rifle with a laser scope.  Intense focus says that we have a detailed plan and that we work that plan with great fervor.

Finally, diligence requires consistency.  Diligence is not an “on again, off again” type of thing.  Going back to the example of parenting, what would happen if you actively, intentionally parent your child one day, and then let him do whatever he wants the next?  Wouldn’t the result of such action be confusing for the child and ultimately disastrous?  So it is with both life and business.  People need to see that we are consistent in what we do or else we will be viewed like Charlie Brown — wishy washy — and we’ll lose all of our credibility.

Diligence — intentional, intense, consistent.  Is it part of your arsenal for living a successful life?

Key Business Elements

If I asked you to define what a business is, could you?  By that, I mean could you give me a really solid definition of what a business is?

Most people define a business as an organization that sells products or services at a profit.  That’s a pretty good definition, but is it good enough?

Let me give you my definition of a business:

A business is a repeatable, duplicatable process that:

  • Creates and delivers something of value.  If you are not offering a product or service that provides value, you are finished before you start.  This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of people who have ideas for products or services that they are very excited about, yet these products or services bring no value to the marketplace.
  • That other people want or need.  In addition to delivering value, your product or service must be something that others need or want.  This statement serves to filter out some of the ideas from the bullet above, because creating value that does not satisfy a need or want in the marketplace is futile.
  • At a price they are willing to pay.  Every product or service has a price point.  That point is the upper limit of what people are willing to pay.  If you are below that point, enough people will potentially buy your product to enable you to generate decent sales.  If you are above that point, the number of people willing to purchase your product or service declines significantly.
  • In a way that satisfies customer’s needs and expectations.  You can create value and provide a product or service that people want, and at a price they are willing to pay – but – are you meeting their needs and expectations?  Every customer has ideas about what your product or service should do for him.  Some of these ideas are based on your customer’s specific needs, and some may be based on the product or service features that are already being provided by your competition.  Customer needs are things that must be met.  And, in addition, the more of their expectations you can meet, the easier it is for you to differentiate yourself from your competition.
  • So that the business makes enough profit to make it worthwhile for you to stay in business.  In the third bullet point, we talked about price points.  The market has a certain price that it is willing to pay for your product or service.  The question to be addressed now is – are your costs to produce your product or service low enough to enable you to make a profit that is sufficient for you to stay in business?

These five items define a business.  If you take any one of them away, you don’t have a business.  If you are planning to start a new business, or are just reviewing your current business venture, always go back to these core items.  Reviewing them will help you to quickly identify and major issues.


Calm and Confident

Novak Djokovic is the number one tennis player in the world.  After beating Andy Murray at the Shanghai Masters, he told reporters, “A calm mind always wins.  Confidence plays a key role for any person on this planet.”

Two very powerful words: calm and confident.  Each has its own significant role to play in our lives, but the combination of the two is a real winner!

Staying calm in this crazy world we live in is, to say the least, an interesting challenge.  But, as the old saying goes, staying “calm, cool, and collected” has tremendous advantages.  If we can “keep our heads while all others are losing theirs”, then we have the unique opportunity to be able to objectively look at the circumstances surrounding the challenges we are facing.  We can then search for creative solutions without becoming embroiled in the heat of the moment.  The most successful soldiers in battle are those who, even when faced with life or death situations, maintain their composure and use their training and skills to survive, help those around them, and accomplish their objectives.  Facing life’s challenges is no different.  Stay calm, be analytical, and use your knowledge and skills to diffuse emotions and resolve difficult situations.

The next part of the equation is to be confident.  Being confident is having a quiet assurance that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience to pull it off.  Real confidence is not a haughty, overstated sense of self-worth.  It is taking an honest, gut lever assessment of your abilities and then believing that you can do it.  Confidence, then, is belief based on fact, not merely on a desire to succeed.

When we combine calm and confident, can you see the magic that is about to happen?  Think about some of the most effective people you know.  In pressures situations, would you say that they are the ones who maintain level heads and quietly use their abilities to resolve issues and get things back on track?  As a result, do you see that they instill confidence and belief in others in such a manner that people flock to them and follow their lead?  That is the power of combining calm and confidence.

Business Offerings

How are the product offerings of your business structured?  Is the way you put them together part of your overall business strategy, or are they just randomly configured and offered to your clients?  Are they assembled in a manner that makes it easy for your sales people to modularize them and them bundle and unbundle them as necessary to meet your customer’s needs?

Vincent van Gogh said, “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

This is the way successful businesses operate.  Consider the following three statements:

  • Most successful businesses combine multiple forms of value to offer value in multiple ways.
  • Usually, these offers are handled separately, and the customer can choose which one to take advantage of.
  • By making offers modular, the business can create and improve offers in isolation, and later mix them as necessary.

Optimum Performance Technologies is a good illustration of these concepts.  Optechs was originally founded as a business consulting practice (Module #1).  Our original focus was on manufacturing businesses, but we broadened our base to include a wide variety of industries, thereby creating a modular offering that is attractive to a number of business sectors.

As we built our consulting practice, we noticed that a large number of issues that our clients faced surrounded their ability to deal with the selection, development, and training of their employees and associates.  As we helped them find solutions to these challenges, a new module of our business naturally developed – Business and Personal Coaching (Module #2).  This area allows us to work with any business, a group within a business, or with individuals, inside and outside of companies, to help them reach new levels of performance in both business and life, and to live far more productive and fulfilling lives.

As we continued, over the years, to gain more experience, knowledge, and successes in our endeavors, a third focal point of our business emerged – Training and Speaking (Module #3).  Through this venue, we are able to share our knowledge with larger audiences and create greater autonomy for our clients.

Each of the three modules we have created stands completely by itself, yet they are easily combined in a variety of ways to create effective, custom solutions to meet the needs of our clients.

Do your business offerings create the same advantages for your company?  Do you have multiple products and/or services that are distinct yet easily combined to meet the specific and ever changing needs of your customers?  Are you constantly on the lookout for ways to define and add new “Modules” to your portfolio that will expand your influence, sales, and profitability in the markets you serve?

At Optechs, we stand ready to help you “Modularize” your business.  Give us a call or e-mail us to schedule a free consultation.