Many companies think they’re building relationships with clients, but until they sink multiple hooks into an organization, the relationship is volatile. The deeper the connection with your customer, the longer it is likely to last.

And, of course, losing existing relationships is costly, considering the second dollar you earn from a client is always more profitable than the first. In fact, the cost of acquiring new customers versus returning customers is six times higher.

However, when you delight your clients, meet their needs and cultivate deep relationships, those clients will be happy to pay your prices.

Why you need more connections

If your sole contact leaves, who else in the company will understand your value? If the old contact wasn’t clearly explaining or documenting it, then your new contact might find it difficult to understand why your company and his should continue a relationship.

And if only one person knows you and what you can do, other departments or leaders in the organization might hire someone else to do something you’re perfectly capable of. (read more…)

When a company is ready to pass the torch, tapping someone on the shoulder and expecting him or her to step up is a delicate process. Having someone replace a legend is an even more daunting task.

Steve Jobs died shortly after Tim Cook became Apple’s CEO. Beyond just stepping into legendary shoes, Cook also had to uphold a legacy. He understood, however, that he could try to emulate Jobs but that no one would be able to replace such a presence.

What Cook did possess was a complete understanding and commitment to the mission of Apple, which is to create the “absolute best products in the world.” Cook has continued to successfully move the company forward and has become a highly influential leader in his own right.

Stepping out of the shadow

For an understudy becoming the lead, it can feel like walking a tightrope between doing things the established way a star did and adding a personal touch. (read more…)

One of the easiest ways to create chaos in your workplace is to announce a major change. Change is often necessary, but if it’s enacted poorly or too broadly, it can cause the well-worn structure of a business to break down almost completely.

As a business leader, you may dread change for this very reason. But you don’t have to. The key is understanding not only what needs to change, but also what must stay the same in order to maintain stability. Take these four steps to reach that better understanding:

1. Identify your organization’s four areas of focus.

In 2013, I was working with a U.S. Navy client that was going through reorganization on a national level. This client, like many military organizations, operated in a VUCA environment, which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. In other words, this client was essentially going through perpetual change.

During this time, one major component prevented this client and the many organizations like it from collapsing into utter chaos. (read more…)

NewManagement_3DFew elements in business are as ubiquitous as the organizational chart. While constructing rigid hierarchies of employees and outlining them in a fixed structure may have worked in older industries like railroads, the ever-changing nature of work today demands an organizational chart that can handle those changes quickly.

These days, based on research that suggests we work best in teams that change often, the best leaders write their organizational charts in pencil, allowing the best teams to be fluid and form around problems and products.

To understand the true value of this new way to write an organizational chart, we must travel — not to the executive boardrooms of high-level consulting companies — but to the bright lights of Broadway. Specifically, we must investigate the teams that bring a Broadway musical from idea to reality.

Every Broadway production is created and run by a senior leadership team with the same seats at the table, but who sits in those seats and how they got to them can tell us a lot about the best way to staff projects and design organizations. (read more…)

What makes an organization sufficiently resilient to survive over a sustained period of time?

In 1983, Royal Dutch/Shell Group studied 27 companies that had survived more than 100 years, were still important in their industries, and continued to have strong corporate identities.

One key finding was that leaders of these organizations believed it was important to leave their organizations in as good as or better shape than when they became leaders. These leaders also put a higher priority on people than on assets. Keeping the community of people who worked at the organization together was more significant to them than the type of work they did. In fact, each of the 27 companies had changed its business portfolio at least once. For example, the chemical company DuPont began as a gunpowder company, and Mitsui of Japan began as a drapery shop before it moved successively into banking, mining, and manufacturing.

Effectively, these leaders thought of themselves as trustees or stewards who had a responsibility to the current and future members of their work communities. (read more…)