Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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make it happen

Make it Happen


I was talking with a group of people who are heavy hitters in their industry.  They’ve had a really good year, and they were worried about net next year and the year after. 

They said, “We hope our success will continue.”

I asked, “What are you doing to continue this success?”

They shrugged.  “We’ll see.”


What is wrong with this scenario?

  1. They don’t realize that hope is not a strategy. Planning is a strategy.  Hoping that business will continue to do well is passive.  It is reactive.  It is not leadership.
  2. They were practicing accidental success. They felt it was accidental when things went right and accidental when things went wrong.  That is not accountability.  That is not guidance.  That is not direction.  They are not OWNING their industry.  That is not leadership.
  3. They are content with the outcomes, either positive or negative. They didn’t seem to care if their companies succeeded or failed.  Why would you want to lead an organization but not care about its long-term success?  That is not leadership. 

I was confused.  So, I asked questions:

“Can you influence your customers’ buying decisions?”  Answer: “Yes.”

“Can you help your customers enjoy their purchases?”  Answer: “Yes.”

“Do your suppliers and retailers rely on you to help them help customers?”  Answer: “Yes.”

I observed, “It seems to me that you can control a lot of the factors that contribute to your future success. Do you want to control the future of your business?”

They said yes.


So, where do we start?

  1. Understand that YOU drive your business success, no one else. Start by working through your business plan.
  2. Markets forces may INFLUENCE your business, but the success or failure depends on you. Have a plan and work the plan.
  3. Brainstorm with the team on what needs to happen next to stay top of mind with customers, remain not just relevant, but at the cutting edge of innovation, and provide great value before, during, and after the buying process.
  4. Let your team know what their part of future success looks like. Reiterate that every person’s role is a critical part of the organizational success.
  5. Practice accountability throughout the organization, so that every person knows what they need to do to grow the business. Start by being accountable to your people.  Tell them what you are doing, do it, and tell them when you have done it.
  6. Communicate your vision of the organization often and clearly. Let people know where they are going. Get them excited about the journey by painting a picture of what the road to success looks like.  “We are the premier bridge builder in Texas.”
  7. Delight your customers every time. Build a crazy loyal, wildly excited fan base about what you provide.  Planning for future success means proactively delighting current customers.  What do you need to do to give them the freedom to take great care of your customers?  Do you have a system in place for delighted customers to share their message?
  8. Seize the opportunity to lead the organization. Don’t wait for market forces or external factors to determine your success.  Understand what has to happen and put together the plan to make it happen.

Leadership is embracing the future by getting ahead of the movement.  Don’t wait for momentum, be the momentum that you want, that your employees want, and that your customers deserve.


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