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Visionary Selling - Part 2 - Become A Visionary Leader

Furniture World Magazine


Until a leader can get other people to buy into a vision, he or she is not a leader at all.

Most People Are Like Icebergs...Between seventy and ninety percent of their potential abilities lie submerged and are never developed. What happens to the rest of that potential? It's lost. How much profit do you imagine this represents? How much opportunity is out there for the company that can double or triple the performance of their associates?

Editor's Note: In September of this year, in Las Vegas, Larry Mullins gave a presentation to a convention of Brand Source Retailers on motivating the sales force. Although his talk was not what they expected to hear, or anything like what they had ever heard before, many called it the best they had ever attended. Here are a few of the essential points of that talk.

Most people are like icebergs. About 70% to 90% of their potential abilities lie submerged and are never developed. If you took Psychology 101 you know this. The problem facing us is that even if you took Psychology 102 through 420 you would not know why. No one does. Therefore, scientists have generally quit talking about it.

What happens to the rest of that potential? It's lost. How much profit do you imagine this represents? In addition, how much opportunity is out there for the company that can double or triple the performance of their associates? Let's turn that wasted potential into profit. Visionary management can do this. Visionary Management is the cutting edge for maximum profits and growth. When a company can collect a group of associates who are willing to act in a way that furthers the company's cause, that company is going to be hard to beat.

One such company built a Visionary Management program over the course of the past ten years. This company grew from 25 mostly 10 thousand square foot stores to seventy stores of 20 to 30 thousand square feet. Gross sales rose from 25 million to two hundred and thirty million. In each of these ten years, double-digit profits were posted. That company is state of the art in advertising and operations. They strive to be the best, however, the CEO recently said that the main reason for their success was their Visionary Management program.

You are going to read quite a bit about that program in this series of articles. The principles of Visionary Management are simple, but difficult to execute. They are more difficult to execute than any other kind of management, but when you learn how to use them, everything else is easy. A Visionary Company makes more money because it is a growth company. A Visionary Leader is a growth person.

Who are the visionary leaders? Just about every person reading this article is a Visionary Leader. You are probably a Visionary Leader.
The problem is: How do you communicate your vision?

Indeed, the only way to achieve lasting success as a Visionary Leader is to learn how to communicate your vision. Because, no matter how great you may be at forming your Vision, or how energetic you are, if you can't communicate your Vision to your staff and make it stick, you can't win.

It took most of the last ten years to develop a program to do this. If you can grasp the following four principles of Visionary management, you will be in the top one percent of leaders in America. These principles are not new. The difference is in their application. All four of these principles will be described, but first, let's examine the difference between talking about them and making them work.

One of the Principles is concerned with the Mission Statement. Nearly everybody thinks they have a Mission Statement. It's that long, boring paragraph that is stuck in a credenza somewhere. No one has read it in years or even knows what it says. Fortune 500 recently took a survey and 94% of the company CEOs said they have a mission statement and it is understood by everyone. 88% said it was carried out by all the staff. 85% said their mission statement was doing a very effective job.

But what did the troops say? 64% of the high level executives said the company had a mission statement. 55% said it was carried out by the staff. 43% Said it was doing an effective job. It gets worse. 32% of the middle managers knew their company had a mission statement. 24% said it was carried out by the staff. And 14% said it was doing a good job. Our visionary furniture company's associates took the same survey. In all three cases they even surveyed line employees. In each case they scored over 95%. Over 95% of the associates said they knew and understood the mission, that it was being carried out by all the staff and that the mission was doing an effective job.

That is the difference between playing management and doing it! This discrepancy represents a huge opportunity for most furniture retailers. The way to take advantage of this opportunity is to apply the four Principles followed by Visionary, growth Companies.

  • The Principle of Visionary Leadership.
  • The Principle of a Visionary Mission.
  • The Principle of Authentic Core Values.
  • The Principle of CCEWIG, or Continually Confronting Everyone with Intimidating Goals. Another way of describing the fourth principle listed is: sharing the Vision.

You just read that everyone reading this article is a Visionary Leader. This statement should have said a "potential" Visionary Leader. Until a leader can get other people to buy into his vision, he or she is not a leader at all. First of all, why do we need a leader? Without a leader, nothing happens. All the teams and empowerment in the world will be nothing without leaders.

We know that about one person in twenty is assertive and self-confident enough to qualify for leadership. Much was learned about leaders during the Korean War, back in the early fifties. You see, they became aware that no American ever escaped from the minimum-security POW camps of the Communist Chinese. Americans escaped from the MAXIMUM-security units, but never from the minimum-security camps. After the war, we learned why. The Chinese spent several days observing new prisoners. They picked out the leaders, and removed them to maximum security. After the leaders were gone, the prisoners were docile, and could almost be left unguarded. About one man in twenty was picked out as a leader. And good leaders are even rarer. Only one person in one hundred would qualify as a good leader by today's very difficult standards.

The difference between a good leader and a dangerous leader is his or her values. A dangerous leader runs roughshod over everyone to get to where he or she is going. Adolph Hitler was assertive, confident, and visionary. But he was contemptuous of people. He used people. People were things to him. So he drenched the planet in innocent blood. A good leader is every bit as assertive and confident as a ruthless leader, but the good leader modifies his or her actions with compassion.

The great leader is a perfect balance of confidence and love. A great leader is a Visionary leader. A great leader defines and holds high a Vision. Then he manages to communicate this Vision to his or her associates with power and clarity, and all the while treating everyone with respect and appreciation.

The mission of this article is to get every manager to begin to think about, what a former U.S. president called, the "vision thing"... every single day! Allocate this quality time if you want to be a Visionary Leader.

What should you think about? After the publication of the first article on Visionary Selling in the August/September issue of FURNITURE WORLD (posted to https://www.furninfo.com in the Marketing Management index), several notes came in from CEOs who wanted to know exactly what they should be thinking about. One of these writers told me every time he sat down to think, he began to worry about problems. This is not Visionary Thinking, this is worrying.

When you sit down to create a vision for your company, start thinking about the way things ought to be. Some great leaders spend days just thinking about what ought to be. I know several CEOs who spend many hours each week working on their vision in this way.

The Visionary Leader takes the time to mentally transcend "the way things are" and propose a better reality. That's what Visionaries do. Visionaries sometimes get a bad reputation because many people believe they are just dreamers. Yet, true Visionaries are realists also... and more than that. They can see things the way they ought to be. When you form a clear and powerful vision about the way things ought to be, you create an awesome tension. This tension is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Something has to fill that gap to relieve the tension.

The job of the other three principles (Mission, Values and Vision) is to fill that gap. But, your first duty as a Visionary Leader is to create that tension.
Begin today to form and define a Vision that will "knock their socks off." Part way through this process, you will probably begin to understand the power of Visionary Management, and why Visionary growth companies are difficult to work for. That's because the Visionary Leader dares to continually confront his or her associates with intimidating goals.

And while you are doing this, you can begin to develop something that is very rare in our industry. Formulate a Mission Statement that over 95% of your associates understand, believe in, and enthusiastically support.

The exact details of how to do this and how to communicate your Vision must await until the December/ January issue of FURNITURE WORLD.

Larry Mullins, President of UltraSales, Inc., has 30+ years experience in the front lines of retail furniture marketing. Larry's mainstream executive experience, his creative work for "promoter-specialists," and study of advertising principles has enabled him to continually develop new High-Impact strategies for independent furniture retailers that are sound, complete, and innovative. Inquiries can be sent to Larry care of FURNITURE WORLD at editor@furninfo.com.


Mullins' Advertising & retail leadership articles

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