Leaders, Take the Helm!

Hello everyone and welcome to my first blog in the Leadership Series.  Perhaps you already enjoyed my blog on winning loyal customers.   I have been teaching leadership for over thirty years, all around the world, and will be partnering with Interweave Solutions to present virtual webinars on leadership.



In this blog I will present the model I am using in my book which will be released later this year: Leaders Do Five Things: Taking the Helm in a Turbulent World. 


Consider your organization as if it is a ship sailing along in sometimes calm but often turbulent waters. The ship is your organization, whether a family a team or a small or large company. The crew of the ship is your staff or others whose every day actions affect the functioning of the ship and influence its culture. The passengers of the ship are your customers, clients, vendors, or members who choose to join you in your journey for a purpose. That purpose should be the basis of your mission and your vision and your values and how you measure success.



Ideally, but rarely, your ship sails smoothly along, successfully hitting each goal and arriving at each port until it achieves your main goals.

But storms arise that can blow your ship off target or cause you to reroute. The culture of your ship effects the behavior of your crew.



Our job as a leader is to have a firm but gentle hand on the helm. People look to us for strength and guidance and inspiration and they want to trust both our character and competence. They want to feel confident and assured that our hand is on the helm.



The model is illustrated in the picture below. The helm of the ship has five major handles and a center axis, trust, which holds the helm in place and around which the other five actions rotate.



Let me briefly explain the helm model and then go in more depth in successive blogs.



The first and one of the most important roles is to Envision. A leader guides the organization in creating a very clear vision, mission, values, and measures of success driven through a consequential strategic plan. This becomes the North Star. All further actions and decisions must be made in alignment with this overarching and inspiring purpose.



Once we have this clearly in place, we must then Enroll people. Each of our “crewmembers” is a four-part being. We all have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components, and each one of these can and must be enrolled and inspired in the vision.



Now all of us must be Enabled. In fact, it is very frustrating for people to feel excited by the vision and enrolled in it but are then disabled by the lack of resources or training or a myriad of other things which they need to carry out the vision and strategy.



Once people have the vision and are enrolled in it and are mostly or fully enabled, we can now Engage them. It is difficult to engage people who lack the first three elements. But I have found that if the first three or firmly in place very little needs to be done to engage them. They will actively and creatively figure things out and self-release their own potential.



Finally, we need everyone in the organization to actively and continuously Explore new and better ways to carry out the vision and strategy. Exploring does not belong only to the role of senior leaders and managers. Remember that no matter how well our organization is going if we are not continually exploring new horizons and new ways to do business or new products, we may find our ship dead in the water or torpedoed by your competition!



But finally, what happens to the helm of a ship if the axis breaks? In fact, the axis of the wheel may be the most important part of the assembly. In our analogy, trust is that axis. Stephen MR Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust, writes that trust is the one thing that changes everything. Trust exists in both the people and the systems. In high trust systems everything moves faster and cheaper as Covey writes. A well lubricated axis that is constantly monitored and maintained enables the helm to move smoothly and effectively.



If you contact Interweave we can set up a free survey that goes out to all your staff and measures how they assess the five parts of the helm. Do they have the vision, are they enrolled, enabled and engaged?  Are they actively exploring new and better ways to do business?


I hope this first blog in the series intrigues you and you can look forward to more blogs addressing each of the parts of the Helm.



Find out more about VisionBound on our website which is linked to Interweave, www.visionbound.com.



You can also email me at kevin@visionbound.com

Winning Loyal Customers: Your Key to Success!




This is Kevin R. Miller, President of VisionBound International, and I am delighted to be a current and future partner with Interweave Solutions. I congratulate each one of you for becoming involved in a program that will not only bless your life but also help everyone in your current and future network.  If you have not yet earned your BMS certificate, go for it and help others do so, too.


I will be posting one or two weekly blogs on my favorite topics of how we can win loyal customers and how to become truly inspirational leaders. You have already begun that important journey in the BMS program.


This first blog is about how we can win truly loyal customers. They are the key to your growth and success no matter if you are in business or government or non-profit work. Please look forward to future blogs on this important topic. It is the basis for my book titled Customers Only Want Two Things: Winning Loyalty in a Competitive World.


So, why are loyal customers so critical? Because they do four important things. First, they come back again and again to do business with you. Second, they buy more or use more of your services and that is very important! Third and perhaps this is the most important, they refer their friends. They tell everyone they know to do business with you. That is surely something you want! And finally, because you have one their loyalty, they want you to stay in business so they will offer feedback to you about what you were doing well and what you could do differently. In essence by doing this for things they are in business with you and for you!


There is an important distinction between satisfaction and loyalty. You know of a business that you are basically satisfied with. You might do business with him again or you might not because there are many competitors who offer the same products and services as you do. Satisfied customers are not necessarily doing the four things that I mentioned above. They leave your place of business OK with you and basically satisfied but not necessarily loyal. 


This is a huge difference. Every time I hear a company tell me they want customer satisfaction I say stop! Satisfaction is not enough because you have many competitors who can do the same thing. They offer the same products and services and someone to choose to go to them just as much as they choose to go to you. So, in your mind replace the word satisfaction with loyalty. You want loyal customers who are true partners with you and want to continue to do business with you and tell others to do so. They are your raving fans! You have won their LOYALTY. 


For example, in my hometown of Springville, Utah, there are six or seven grocery stores, such as WalMart and Smiths.  If I go into one of them, I EXPECT they will have all the items on my shopping list.  If they do, I am generally satisfied, but not necessarily loyal.  I am not going to tell everyone, “Wow, they had eggs and milk and bread!  If they did not have most or all the things on my list, I would leave dissatisfied and certainly not loyal.  I can guarantee that, whatever business you are in, there are competitors offering similar goods and service.  You can’t stop there; you need to do the things that win loyalty.


By the way if you are a manager your most important customers are your STAFF! If you are a caring, kind, supportive, visionary and motivating leader you create loyalty and devotion in those around you.


I mentioned the title of my book, Customers Only Want Two Things: Winning Loyalty in a Competitive World.  It is time now to introduce those two things, which I will address deeper in the next blogs.  So, what do customers basically want?


  1. Solve My Problem:  This is the basic expectation of every customer, just like when I go grocery shopping.  Solving my problem wins basic satisfaction, but not necessarily loyalty.  Loyalty is won by the second.
  2. Leave me Feeling Great about my Experience:  not good, but great.  As I will address in my future blogs, leaving people feeling great requires something special—Be UNIQUELY nice to me.  Unique means something extra special, that feels customized to the person.  It can be as simple as using their name, complimenting them, being kind to their children, or giving them a little treat to remember you buy.


In my workshop, which we will be offering by webinar through Interweave Solutions, we cover exactly how to do these two things.  We have decks of Hot Tip Cards: each of the 33 cards has an idea you can use to solve problems AND leave your customers feeling great.


So, watch out for the next blog where I will address how to measure loyalty.  Then future blogs will dig deeper into the two things customers want.


So, welcome to the world of continuous learning in Interweave Solutions and I hope you enjoy my blogs.  You can visit my website at www.visionbound.com where you can learn more.  You can also email me at kevin@visionbound.com


Go out and start winning LOYAL customers and see what exciting things will happen!