The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Monday, March 01, 2010
Volume 15 | # 355
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Your job gives you authority. Your behavior gives you respect. » Irwin Federman

Well, That's Not Cool

I was sad to lose an old friend recently. No, it wasn’t a person or even a pet. It was the refrigerator we’ve owned since we were married almost 17 years ago.

My wife laughs at the fact that I can become sentimental about a refrigerator. But hey, it had been with us through 3 states, 5 homes, and 2 kids.

She said that since I was so saddened, she’d let me pick the replacement. Well, as long as the new fridge is as big as any they make these days, has a freezer drawer on the bottom, no through-the-door features, and silver in color.

After shopping online for the best price, I visited a local store. The apron-wearing guy in the appliance area was a friendly fellow who offered seemingly good advice. I gave him our parameters, and he showed me around. After narrowing my choices, I was leaning toward a certain model. He then showed me a few of the nicer features in a higher-priced model that impressed me. It was a couple hundred dollars more, but seemed worth it.

We walked to his desk to schedule delivery. As I handed him my credit card, he pulled up my order. But the price was $150 more than the already higher price listed on the floor model. I asked him if he had pulled up the wrong model.

He then told me that the model on the floor was white, but the platinum-color fridges were $150 more. It’s funny how he chose not to mention that before.

Now, he had spent the whole time with me discussing silver-colored fridges. Yet, he waited until I was ready to pay to point out that the price I made my decision on was $150 less than the actual cost.

After walking over to the fridge again and thinking it over, I decided that I still liked it. What I didn’t tell the guy was that we’re remodeling soon and will need a new dishwasher, stove, and oven in the next few months, as well.  Then again, he doesn’t need to know. I won’t be buying those from him.

Few things destroy credibility with a customer more than feeling mislead- purposefully or not. In this case, I would have paid the higher price for a product I saw value in, anyway. His hiding (intentional or not) the true cost wasn’t needed to make the sale. It did, however, cost him an even larger sale in the near future.

Always strive to make sure your customers can see the true costs, as well as true value, of your products. They’ll come to value you even more.

Miraculous Leadership

While channel-surfing this week, I stumbled upon an old show on ESPN Classic. It was a “Miracle on Ice” recap show from 1980.

I’m sure that the 2010 US Hockey team’s run has reminded many folks of that team. But today’s team is made up of pros. The miracle team of 1980 was made up of true amateurs - when there actually was such a thing.

I found myself smiling at a few interviews with the 1980 team that I had never seen before. These guys (many looked like teenagers) had not yet shocked the world. At the time, their comments about team work, sticking to a plan, and believing anything was possible must have seemed especially quaint, even naïve.

But it was the comments by the team’s captain, Mike Eruzione, which really grabbed my attention. When he was first shown on the screen, I flashed back to my reaction to him 30 years ago. As a teenager, I remember thinking, “He’s captain?”

Others on the team looked far more suited for the role. There was Jim Craig, the All-American cover-boy goalie. There were at least a dozen other big, fast, and athletic dudes who looked the captain part more than Eruzione.

During this 30-year-old interview, Eruzione was very humble about being captain. He explained that any of the guys on that team could be captain. He continued, “I’m not as talented as most of these guys. I don’t skate the best. I’m not the best scorer. I don’t pass as well as most of these guys.”

It was what he said next that showed why he was captain. “But I work hard.”

Watching that old footage, I recalled that he was also the most visibly excited and vocal member of the team. He was a fired-up cinder-block on skates (who also happened to score the winning goal against the Russian team.)

Thirty years later, the lesson of Eruzione is as true as ever. You don’t need to be the best at any particular skill or job to be a great leader of your team. Sometimes, the most important things a leader can bring to his team are a work ethic, enthusiasm, and the ability to motivate his team to give their best effort.

Whether you’re in a leadership position now or will be one day, remember that the best leaders aren’t always “the best” individually. But they bring out the best in their teams collectively - sometimes with miraculous results.

Unless we change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed. » Chinese Proverb

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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