Peer Power Blog
Arlin has been involved in the IT world for over 25 years as the founder of Sorensen's Computer Connection in 1985 and then through M&A to become a partner and CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions in 2003.
Thoughts From HTG Summit 2013
On the plane ride home from Dallas, our team was talking and spending some time doing an informal debrief of our week together at the 2013 HTG Summit. I thought it would be good to review some of the great events and activities of the week we just experienced. So over the next few posts, I’ll summarize the view from where I sit.
If I could sum up the feeling behind many of our shared observations and comments it would be two-fold: Proud and Thankful. I leave the week feeling proud of our team and how they are choosing to lead through change, proud of so many of you and how you are engaging, and profoundly humbled and thankful to be a part of the HTG journey together.
I spent time reflecting and looking back over the week and realized we experienced so many powerful moments together. These were a few that stood out to me:
1. Advisory Council Meeting: We started the week by gathering our advisory council together. They are your representatives and a group without whom HTG would be in a very different place. They work tirelessly to provide input and help to guide direction, wanting to make our community organizationally healthy and a place where members can grow and flourish.
Your advisory council is an integral part of ensuring that we stay on mission and walking toward the vision of being more than simply a business peer group organization but of being the premier peer group community in the IT industry where people can come and invest their lives, be sharpened by others, and be equipped to go back to their patch and maximize their impact.
Although we have had many...
Reasons Leaders Fail to Finish Strong
Now being three months post sale of HTS, I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing strong. The reality is that making it all the way to the end running hard and right is rare. Many folks tend to flame out at some point along the journey. Even in the Bible, it is filled with examples over and over of people who were living large for God and then just fall apart at the end, or later on the journey through life. In today’s world, there are lots of examples of folks that have been leading well and then fall apart as they begin to wind down.
What then are the common characteristics of leaders who fail? Here are some thoughts about reasons leaders fail. Remember that leadership is doing the right thing, while management is doing things right. Leaders see the future and focus on making sure the ladder is leaning against the right building, not how fast it gets climbed.
1. They feel they cannot fail.
To lead you have to be confident, but when you start to believe everything about your leadership, pride goes before the fall. Leaders will not always get it right. But they have to digest all the available information and predict the future. They are often overconfident about their ability to do exactly that, and must never forget that leadership is something we have to get up and focus on daily – it isn’t automatic and doesn’t just happen.
2. They fail to grow.
Leadership changes constantly and there can be failure if leaders resist change and fail to grow. The world changes...
Vision - So Much More
We are constantly working to define and revise our plans for legacy, life, business and leadership as part of the HTG experience. And one of the core elements to all those plans is a clear understanding of our vision. Sometimes we don’t slow down long enough to really consider what that vision is. We draft a statement and move on. If you began developing your vision by drafting a single statement, you probably undershot it.
A vision is so much more than a sentence. It really is a picture of the future. It is what you are trying to paint on the canvass of life and leading your business. The truth is that we can’t paint that picture until we can envision it in our mind. An artist has to know what he the final picture will look like before ever touching the canvass with a brush. Vision paints an image of what your organization desires for the future, providing the passion and heart for everything you do. Energized by its vision, a healthy organization passionately pursues that thing it cares most about.
True vision cannot be contained by a few words and a period. It has to be something people can latch onto as their future. It is about the thing we all want to become. It is hard to put it in words if it is a real vision. In fact, folks often find themselves talking for hours, still never finding exactly the right words to fully express what they feel. But unfortunately, too many businesses and most individuals lack true vision, operating only from some general uninspiring statement rather than a genuine expression of heart.
A vision statement is only a...
Upcoming Planning for Success Webinar
One of the foundational parts of the HTG Peer Group program is our method of planning. The HTG Way of planning for legacy, life, leadership, and business is unique and key to our members’ success. My good friend Joe Panettieri recently blogged about his personal experience with planning. If you haven’t had a chance to read JP’s post yet, I encourage you to do so. Check out the comments section, too. Some HTG members and friends of HTG shared valuable insights about their own planning process there.
Each of our HTG members received a copy of the Planning for Success: the HTG Way book as part of their membership renewal this year. We have had great feedback around the book and are looking forward to how it will be a difference makers not only for our members but also for those in their patch—their families and employees. Strengthening planning and communication is an important part of strengthening our personal and organizational health.
On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, HTG team members Laurie Sorensen and Brad DeSent will present a free webinar to help you use the Planning for Success workbook to its full potential. The webinar will introduce the HTG way of planning and highlight briefly the Life, Legacy, Leadership, and Business plans. Anyone is invited to attend. Whether or not you are part of the HTG...
What Does SWA have to do with Being an MSP?
This week I was in Tampa spending time with our friends at ConnectWise, and I was able to catch up with Lisa Jenkins and spend an hour over coffee. We talked about life and her future plans, but also some of the realities of what is happening in the IT channel, and in HTG as an organization. She shared a link with me to a great blog post she had written last fall, and I asked if I could post it here. Take a read - great thinking and some valuable ideas for how to run your company.
In recent research to understand trends in managed services, I read an article about Southwest Airlines unique success in a commoditized market. It proves to show that great customer service and relationships, combined with repeatability and standardization ultimately create best in class profits. In the IT managed services business model, profitability is ultimately driven by the same two core components; relationships or “value” and repeatability or “scale”.
Southwest Airlines is the most profitable airline in the US and even though some may complain about the “cattle call” boarding process, no one can refute that their customer satisfaction and loyalty is through the roof. So, they obviously have the “relationship” side of the business down. “Value” is defined by the beholder. So, how do you define your value to your customers? Do you explain your business and what technologies you provide or are you focusing on explaining your value from the customer’s perspective? What impact will you have on their business? It’s important to talk about what customers care about…NOT why they need to upgrade to Windows 8. Using facts and examples of success brought to other customers is critical. This...
The Emotional Temperature of Your Company
In my blog post “Leading Your Way to Cultural Success,” I wrote about the HTG Q1 Leadership Forum. Steve Anderson shared a powerful keynote with us about what he calls “Natural Laws.” He says that natural laws are those that are consistent and predictable. He gave the example of gravity. Steve has 101 of these natural laws of human behavior that he has identified, but he chose to focus on one during his time with our members. That law was the Law of Emotion which he defines as follows: Humans make decisions emotionally and then justify those decisions with logic.
Steve gave the example of the workplace, saying that colleagues impact one another emotionally. The evidence speaks for itself: within fifteen minutes of arrival at the office, the physiology of everyone in the space is remarkably similar.
If you don’t like the emotional atmosphere in your office, look in the mirror. You will be staring back at the biggest determining factor in office climate—the owner’s own attitude. Recently I did a consulting engagement with a company and during one-on-one interviews with the staff, I asked them a question I like to ask a lot: “If you had a magic wand and could change one thing to make you more successful at your job and to make working here more enjoyable what would you change?” Several of the employees voiced the same thing: my boss’s moods. They shared that the day can start on a high note but if their owner/manager comes...
Why Don’t I Grow
As part of my role with Heartland Leadership Group, I am able to work with a number of businesses across the country and around the globe. There are some common traits of companies that get stuck growing. There is a reason that most never go beyond 10 employees – it is hard work and many things prevent growth from happening. The last statistic I saw was that 96% of small businesses never go past 10 and when we get to 100 the percentage is extremely small. So why does growth stall? The common issues I see are that most businesses:
1. Don’t have a clear mission and vision for the future.
If you want to avoid growth, make sure you don’t have a vision for the future. Vision consists of seeing the future and passing that on so others can get on board. Mission answers the question of “why” which is extremely important to the new generation of workers. Many business owners don’t think they need to take the time to determine mission and vision. That is a very costly thought process. If there is no vision, the people will perish, and you won’t have to worry about growth.
2. Don’t clearly define core values and make them central to how the company does business.
Core values are the fence around the workplace. It defines what is acceptable behavior and how the team is expected to act doing business day to day. Many companies may create a list of core values, but they stop there and don’t define what those mean in actual interaction. There is definite value in having the values selected –...
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