Two Words That Will Kill Your Company

nervous business manIf you want to guarantee that you and your leadership team will never achieve your vision, get comfortable using the following phrase over and over:

“Kind of.”

Trust me, nothing will kill your company (and maybe you) faster.

After running more than a thousand full-day sessions with the leadership teams of entrepreneurial companies, I’ve learned some things about what makes businesses and leaders truly great. Great leaders are explicit and crystal clear when they communicate (even when the message hurts). Great leaders keep their word – if they say they’re going to do something, they do exactly that. Great leaders don’t settle for “good enough.”

“Kind of,” is the opposite of those things.

“Kind of” Will Kill You

When it’s okay for someone to “kind of” understand what you’re asking or telling them, people are likely to fail. When it’s okay for To Dos and Rocks to be “kind of” done, you’re risking accountability for following through on your priorities. When it’s okay for someone to “kind of” share your Core Values or “kind of” GWC their seat, it’s impossible to hold everyone in your organization to the same high standards. It’s impossible to attract and retain great people, while repelling people that don’t fit.

Of course, eradicating “kind of” from your company’s lexicon is easier said than done. In the heat of battle, relaxing your standards and accepting less than 100% commitment and follow-through can seem harmless – even prudent. But it’s deadly.

Eliminating “Kind Of” from Your Company

Here are a few tips to make sure “kind of” doesn’t kill you:

  • When you’re having a tough conversation with a wrong person or someone who’s in the wrong seat, do they truly understand that working with you to get above The Bar is mandatory? If not, you may have just postponed any meaningful improvement by at least 90 days. Be direct when you’re giving constructive feedback.
  • Do you want to tweak or rewrite Rocks well after you’ve begun working to complete them? It’s too late! Once a Rock is written and approved by your team members, your job is to complete what’s written. 95% done = NOT done, so be careful when writing your Rocks and To Dos.
  • When you ask one of your employees if he or she understands what you’ve just discussed, do they truly understand? If their words are saying “yes” but their eyes and facial expression suggest otherwise (look for confusion and/or fear), take the time to be sure. Instead of asking again, consider a technique called “echoing.” Simply ask them to repeat what it is you just said in their own words, and make sure they’ve nailed it. No assumptions.

In these situations and countless others that happen everyday in your business, slow down. Take the time to be crystal clear, and to get everyone aligned and committed to 100% follow-through. In other words, don’t settle for “kind of” – it’ll kill you.

Next Steps

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