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Feet in the Fire or Feet on Fire?

The missing secrets to making your corporate culture come alive!

The executive meeting was to start at 8 AM. Two of the ten executives were missing. The purpose of the meeting was to improve how the executive group connected as a team so they could execute ideas, challenge each other appropriately, and drive the company to higher sales.

The CEO turned to me and said, “They are all big boys. They know the time we were to start so let’s get going.”

Hmm…. Do you see a problem here?

What messages was the CEO sending to those present? How about to those not present? And what lasting effect could these messages have as they cascade down the organization?

Ironically enough this same group was complaining to me that their sales teams didn’t work well together, that their internal teams didn’t connect and that there seemed to be internal confusion about issues they thought were clear.

Symptoms? Roots? Where does it all start?

The CEO definitely sent messages that day that I can guarantee were not the ones he wanted to send.

Here is just a few of the messages he sent:

1) To those that were present, he sent a message that there are no consequences for not playing as part of a team.

2) To those that were late, he sent a message that he was okay with them playing by their own rules.

3) To all he sent a message that he wasn’t going to hold people’s feet to the fire so it was okay to play solo versus playing as a team.

And that is just what the entire company was doing—playing solo, not as a team.

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do is have strong principles, premises and values that you will NOT budge off of. You should hold ALL people accountable and people should know that there are consequences if you don’t honor these principles, premises and values.

This leads to an atmosphere that is charged with trust because people know that ALL people are holding to these same values. It eliminates excuses and it raises the respect.

If you expect messages to cascade down, you have to know WHAT the real messages are that are being sent.

So how do you know if your company needs a better system for communication?

Answer these simple questions:

  1. Do your messages cascade down in your organization?
  2. Does every employee know what they need to do in order for the company to reach its yearly and quarterly objectives?
  3. Are you silo free?
  4. Does the behavior of each employee match your corporate values?
  5. Do people know how to make independent decisions or do they wait for “those on top” to dictate down?
  6. Does every person know what differentiates you from the competition?


If the answer to any of these questions is NO then you need to have a system that aligns all people. We find many corporations we work with lack focus in their communication so sales, operations, human resources, and customer service are all operating independently and there is much time wasted in meetings and lost production.

So as the leader, it is time to take control and create that focus along with consequences. People may not like you all the time but I guarantee that if you are straightforward with those values and you have consequences for those that don’t follow them, people will respect you.

So which will you do in 2007—Hold people’s feet to the fire or watch the feet of your company catch fire?


As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .