If you are the main contributor to the input, make sure you start with YOU when attempting to change the output.

One of the unspoken oaths that is taken when placed in the position of “coach” at any level is the pledge to say what is on your mind no matter what. I call it the truth-serum oath.

Sometimes it really challenges perception around “customer service” because what the customer will often request is not always what the coach sees as the TRUE issue. How to balance the customer’s wishes and BE the coach at the same time is a finesse- filled topic for another day. Let’s use this column to cover a few of the (sadly common) instances when the problems causing the business owner so much strife are, when forensically traced back to the roots, planted by that business owner him/herself. In short, they light and add fuel to the very fire they are seeking our assistance to extinguish. Not always a pleasant fact to point out, but a necessary one. Denial is the most often missed and devastating aspect of being below the line; a state from which no progress or growth is possible.

4 ways you might be creating the very problems you hate:

1) You ask questions that start with “Why”

The problem you detest is that too many excuses are being made. My team makes excuses, my suppliers make excuses, my customers make excuses, etc. It only takes a few moments of watching these people live and in action in their business to realize the tragedy that they are not only actively training their people to be ready with excuses – they are often demanding that their people give excuses. If you ask questions that start with “why” or “how come” – expect excuses. Period. Don’t ever expect the team to be above the line and focus on solutions, because you are conditioning them to spend their energy on their alibi. If you are feeling sick to your stomach right now, give yourself a break – it’s natural for most of us to ask these sorts of “why” questions. The question is, what are you going to do to be better in the future and change the type of questions you ask?

2) You help too much

The problem you want to solve is getting your team to show more initiative and take more responsibility. See, everything you do and don’t do is training your people. When you rush in and save them when things go the slightest bit off track, you are training them. When a big sales opportunity comes in and you say, “I’ll handle this one,” you are training them. When they produce some fantastic work, show it to you, and you make a small edit, you are training them. In all these examples, you are being super helpful – too helpful. Stop it. Don’t bother referencing what it says on their position description, citing what it clearly states they are responsible for, etc. Your actions and behaviours deliver the message of what their job is louder than the position description, and if you are being too helpful, the thundering message received is “This job does not require responsibility, assertiveness, or independent ideas and ability.” Once again – you are watering that weed you wish to kill. Ouch.

3) You focus on price

The problem causing you pain and frustration is that you are getting too many price-focused shoppers and deal hunters. This one in particular is evidence of the fact that so often we can’t see the obvious right in front of us until it is pointed out by a third party. If you run most of your marketing and advertisements using price- focused headlines, offers and copy, and you show up to your networking events constantly referencing deal pricing,

and you practice little to no question-based selling – i.e. you are an order taker – then, of course, you are going to attract price-focused shoppers and bargain hunters. In fact, your marketing is working perfectly in attracting what you are projecting. There are dozens of further paragraphs we could go through to explore getting out of price competition, but for now let’s just stick to the core theme – they come in focused on price because you are. See how that works?

4) You talk differently to the team than you do to the customers.

The problem bothering you is that you feel the team doesn’t respect your leadership. You want to know what’s painful? Watching someone speak in a short, condescending, impatient, and flat-out disrespectful way to a person on their team, and 30 seconds later watching them deal with a customer in a caring, respectful, positive, and “how can I help?” manner. Even more painful when said person has a bookcase full of leadership books from all the authorities, has attended several big-ticket leadership conferences and retreats, and prides themselves on being a leadership expert. Umm … fail! If you speak differently to the customers than you do to the team, than you do to the (insert any human here), the chances of you receiving the respect you seek is zero. Now that we have that out of the way, put down the latest masterpiece from “leadership expert X”, and take a hard look at your integrity and consistency. This can often be hard to notice as self- awareness is not acute in all of us. Ask for some feedback