“How did you do that”?
He had just spent several days reviewing our business operations, and after absorbing our successes and industry-leading metrics, he couldn’t figure it out on his own.
So he was compelled to ask me that question, perhaps hoping I would reply with some magic formula that he could take back home with him.
But alas, it wasn’t magic. It was 7 years of hard work. By many, many people.
I hesitated for several beats before I attempted to answer the question, because nobody had ever just flat out put it that way. I thought, “how in the world could I possibly summarize all that we did to be successful in 30 seconds?”
Then, it hit me. All that math training I got in high school finally paid off, because the mental image that flashed in my head was an equation of sorts:
The first part of the equation summarized the qualities needed in every single employee.
“Pr” is Pride. Doing a good job has to be a personal feeling that it’s just the right thing to do – it just can’t be “because someone told me to“
“Pa” is Passion. Everyone has to like what they do to excel at it. There’s no getting around this one.
“CS” is Common Sense. It’s not all in the employee handbook and instruction manuals – everybody, and especially customer facing teammates, must be able to make those daily practical judgments that make a huge difference between greatness and mediocrity
These qualities are great, but they need to be amplified by a supervisor or manager.
“Fc” is Focus. The manager needs to make sure that the company’s short and long-term objectives are always in the front of everyone’s mind, as well as make sure that every individual clearly understands what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis. Nobody should ever take their eye off the ball.
“Pe” is Persistence We all make mistakes. We all come off the rails on occasion. Or make the wrong decision. The businesses that prevail are the ones that relentlessly keep pushing forward while learning well from the setbacks along the way.
Finally, the top leaders need to apply the most powerful multipliers of them all.
“Vi” is Vision. What’s the overarching goal? The “big, hairy, and audacious” goal? Why are we doing what we’re doing, and why is it important to every single person in the organization? What are our shared values? The top leaders, by effectively articulating the answers to these questions, can inject a booster shot into the momentum already created by the lower part of the equation.
“PI” is Positive Inspiration. I’ve always remembered this quote by Colin Powell – “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”. I fervently believe that injecting a “can do” spirit and a positive, “up” energy is an absolutely essential part of any success equation.
So, after hashing this equation out in my mind, I was able to answer the “how did you do that” question. We did it with pride, passion, common sense, focus, persistence, vision, and positive inspiration.
And that’s how you can do it too, with no magic required. Just a lot of hard work. Ready?