There are many approaches to leadership, such as:

Authentic Leadership
Servant Leadership
Transformational Leadership
Path-Goal Leadership

… and many more.

Each of these approaches goes into detail to describe what leadership is, and how to be a leader.

But amongst all this complexity, is there is a common set of leadership activities at the centre of all these leadership models? Is there a simple set of tasks that demarcate what it is that leaders do, and how to be a leader?

It turns out that there are 8 core leadership activities.

Systems

Almost everyone tells us we should be setting goals.

SMART goals.

BHAG goals.

Choose a definite chief aim.

But does it work?

Is setting and pursuing goals the best way to achieve success?

I was reading Scott Adam’s book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life recently (Adams is the creator of the successful Dilbert comic strip).

It’s a great read, and full of useful insights.

Adams is against goal-setting.

He thinks there’s a better way: systems:

“My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals … If you know some extra successful people, ask some probing questions about how they got where they did. I think you’ll find a system at the bottom of it all, and usually some extraordinary luck.”

From goals to systems

A system need not be complicated. For example, it could just be “try things until something works”:

“The smartest system for discerning your best path to success involves trying lots of different things—sampling, if you will. For entrepreneurial ventures it might mean quickly bailing out if things don’t come together quickly.”

Why does Adams reject goal-setting?

For Adams, the biggest issues with goals are that:

  • Goals create a sense of lack until you achieve your goal. And when you do get there, the feeling of success wears off rapidly.
  • Focusing on achieving goals doesn’t build momentum for what happens after achieving the goal – except by setting another goal.

Adams writes:

“… if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game.
If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure.”

Adams is not alone in taking issue with goal setting, and advocating for systems.

A quick exploration in Google brought up some interesting perspectives.

For example, in relation to sport, Justin Brown writes in ideapod:

“I once ran a marathon in 2012, which I consider one of my greatest achievements. About six months before the marathon, I set the goal of finishing it.

I started running every day, quickly improving my fitness levels. All of my efforts were focused on achieving this goal.

Finishing the marathon is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. Yet after I achieved that goal, my running ground to a halt. I didn’t have the goal to motivate me anymore.

Instead, if I had have been focused on the process of running every week, I may still be running today. I may have run many more marathons in the last 5 years.”

Brown explicitly advocates for systems, in all areas of life:

“If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your process, would you still get your results?

My proposition is that you would. In fact, you would more likely achieve success.”

Psychologist Adam Alter also advocates systems over long-term goals, for the same reasons that Adams does.

He suggests that if you are writing a book, then having a system to work on the book for a certain number of hours each day or write a certain number of words each day is likely to lead to greater long-term success.

Of course, systems and goals are related. We might create a system with a goal in mind, and working in a system might develop goals as we go.

Adams acknowledges this:

“You might say every system has a goal, however vague. And that would be true to some extent. And you could say that everyone who pursues a goal has some sort of system to get there, whether it is expressed or not. You could word-glue goals and systems together if you chose.

All I’m suggesting is that thinking of goals and systems as very different concepts has power.

Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.”

From a scientific point of view, Goal-setting is a complex area. There’s been a lot of research undertaken into what works, when it works and why it works, and what doesn’t work.

If you’re interested, much of it the lessons psychologists and others have learned about pursuing goals “the right way” have been summed up by Heidi Halvorson in her book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals.

In the meanwhile, Scott Adams’ idea of a system for success is a strong one and worth some reflection and application.

Let me know what you think.

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I focus on the areas of strategy, alignment, and full-expression – turning your ideas and expertise into messages that cut through and programs, services or products that make a difference.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/

if you are a solo or small business owner like a coach, consultant, or service provider, is leadership something you should be focusing on?

Or should you be spending time on more important things – like say marketing, sales, and delivery?

Leadership isn’t important for you … UNLESS you want to make a difference and impact, or you want to grow your business.

If you do, then leadership matters.

There are six reasons why you should care about leadership:

1. Leaders change the world
2. Leadership connects your head to your heart
3. If you have a purpose – you are a leader
4. Leaders attract followers
5. Leadership is the critical core of your business
6. Leadership is the highest ROI activity

I recently posted about how we can grow our business by choosing different and better marketing channels.

The crux of the approach is to think carefully about your marketing channels in relation to what you have used and what other people use in your industry – and then add different marketing channels to your mix.

This was based on ideas from Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in their book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.

They introduced the “Bullseye Model”:

Traction - Bullseye Model

To improve your marketing:

  1. Identify all the possible marketing channels that you could use
  2. Test the most promising marketing channels
  3. Optimise and scale the marketing channels that worked best

This post is about how to think a little more deeply about the model and get better results.

Applying the model more deeply …

The Bullseye model is solid. But there are some things we can focus on to get even better results.

Add more channels to the mix …

The list of 19 “traction channels” provided by Weinberg and Mares is a good starting point.

But there are also other viable channels.

For solopreneurs and small business owners, who are starting out, a big one to put on the list is is Networking.

Networking includes:

  • Live networking at live networking events
  • Social networking, on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter

There may also be new channels emerging as a result of new technologies, innovations, or entrepreneurship.

There may be other channels specific to your industry or locale.

If you think you can add good new channels to the mix – add them in!

Brainstorm all the marketing channels you can think of while you are working on the “outer ring” of the Bullseye.

Dig deep and get very specific …

Think about each of the 19 “traction channels” as categories of marketing channels, not as the final marketing channels themselves.

For example, if you pick the traction channel of “Existing Platforms,” then there are many existing platforms you could use – like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, iTunes, Appstore, Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, and so on … you could probably name dozens of them.

If you pick the traction channel of Offline Ads, you have everything from billboards to fliers in mail boxes to streaming a message from a zeppelin to radio ads to TV ads – and more.

So go deep into brainstorming channel ideas within each of the categories.

And don’t stop just one level in.

If you choose “Existing Platforms,” for example, and you are looking at Facebook – don’t stop there. Ask: “how can I use the Facebook platform as a traction channel?”

You might identify multiple strategies or ways to use the Facebook platform, like:

  • Facebook groups
  • Facebook pages
  • Posting on the Facebook timeline
  • Social networking on Facebook
  • Facebook lives
  • Facebook events
  • Facebook advertising
  • Facebook apps (like quizzes)
  • Use the Facebook API to develop a custom interface

Each of the above stems from particular features of the Facebook platform. And I’m sure this list does not exhaust the possibilities.

The strategies I listed overlap with the other traction channels.

This is OK. The point here is not so much to create a precise taxonomy (definition) of all the possible channels, but to help you brainstorm original and useful channels that might help you grow your business.

These channel categories are starting points for channel ideas. But don’t stay at the surface – dig deep into each channel category to discover multiple possible channel possibilities.

This is time for your creativity and lateral thinking to shine, as you come up with new ideas and possibilities.

Brainstorm the possibilities …

Be creative and list as many channels and channel strategies as you can.

If you think of networking, are there different places that you could network, like while on plane flights, or at high-end events?

If you think of offline advertising, think about what other people aren’t – like remnant media ad buys.

Be creative as you look for ideas in each of the traction channels – and beyond.

Break up the channels by stages of the marketing funnel

We often think of marketing and sales activity in terms of a sequence or “funnel” of steps:

Marketing Funnel Sequence

  1. Contact
  2. Connect
  3. Engage
  4. Enrol

Contact is where people come across you for the first time. For example this might be when they do a Google search and your page comes up, they meet you at a networking event and find you interesting, or they go to a live event and hear you speaking on stage.

Connect is when people decide to hear more from you. This can be, for example,

  • Opting in for email updates,
  • Connecting with you on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, or
  • Registering (opting in) for a webinar you were advertising on Facebook.

Engage is when you provide valued content to the people who are connected with you, and deepen the relationship.

Enrol is when you make appropriate and relevant offers, and people accept – they become customers.

With this frame in mind, not all of the “marketing channels” are the same.

When we are considering marketing channels, we need to have a mix of channels that covers off all four stages – starting with Attraction.

To elaborate for a moment, consider the following four marketing channels:

  • Email marketing,
  • Viral marketing,
  • Two different “community” channels: A “closed” group on Facebook built around a topic of shared interest, and a “closed group you created in a Facebook group, made up of clients who have all brought a product or service from you.

Traction Channels By Marketing Stage

These channels are all different, when we consider the stages of marketing and sales activity.

Email marketing does not bring any new people into your orbit – unless you ask them to refer a friend, or send link or invitation to a friend. And if that’s the case, it’s viral marketing.

Email marketing is really focused around the Engage and Enrol phases of the marketing and sales process.

Viral marketing, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It is primarily about getting new people to see your content or product and then connect, as a result of being referred by a trusted friend. It is true that if people forward a link to an inexpensive product with a sales page then it can lead directly to enrollment. But by and large, viral marketing is focused on the Contact and Connect phases.

If you have a “closed” Facebook group, say a Facebook group around a healthy lifestyle, relationships, or growing a business, you can create an engaged community. But Facebook also recommends your group to other people on Facebook who it thinks might be a good fit for the group, and those people can then apply to join the group. A closed Facebook group therefore covers off Contact and Connect phases as well. And, while you continue to add value in the community, you can also announce offers or product launches or other activities that lead to sales – the Enrol stage.

If you create a Facebook group that is only open to people who have enrolled in a program or bought a product or service from you, this can be very effective for Engage activity. It can also set up Enrol activity for a next level of service offering. But since the group is specifically restricted to people who are already buyers, it does not bring new people into your world.

All four of these stages of the marketing and sales process are important,

But if you want traction, you need Contact. You have to find a channel for Contact that “fills the funnel” with the right people.

And that’s worth doing some experimentation to achieve.

Find Your “Clusters”

If we look at a long list of 19 (or more) marketing channels categories, it’s tempting to think of them individually, one at a time.

In real life though, several of these channels “cluster” together.

For example:

  • Targeting blogs, content marketing, SEO, existing platforms, and email marketing all tend to hang together and reinforce each other
  • Speaking, live events, community building, business development (JV partnerships), and exhibiting at trade shows also tend to reinforce each other

If you are going to create a presentation for speaking, then it’s not that big a jump to

  • Speaking to an audience at a trade show at which you also exhibit
  • Delivering a webinar, teleseminar, or interview to JV partners’ audiences
  • Putting on a live event where you are the speaker and the host.

If you are already writing content for content marketing, it’s not a big jump to

  • Generating SEO traffic
  • Targeting blogs with guest posts
  • Collecting email addresses from opt-in boxes from the blog, and doing email marketing

Think about your marketing channels in terms of a set of related, mutually reinforcing, activities.

Then come back to the stages of the marketing and sales activity, and make sure you’ve got them all covered off as well.

Put It To Work For Your Business

If you can add something else to your marketing mix that works great, and your competitors haven’t thought of yet, you’ve just given yourself a big advantage.

You can take this in other directions as well. For example, thinking about your marketing channels in relation to the current level of market maturity can be interesting.

Nothing will work until you apply it. Put aside a couple of hours, and apply this!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I focus on the areas of strategy, alignment, and full-expression – turning your ideas and expertise into messages that cut through and programs, services or products that make a difference.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/

If you own or run a business, or you do any marketing, you probably know how hard it can be to cut through and get attention in a competitive market.

So how do some companies get their market raving about their product or service?

Guy Kawasaki was the chief evangelist for Apple, back in the early days of the Apple Mac. He is chief evangelist for Canva.

Kawasaki knows a thing or two about cutting through the noise and creating a cult following for a product.

So what is the secret?

In his book The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, Kawasaki shares a strategy for breaking through.

Kawasaki said he learned that it’s easy to evangelise a great product – and hard to evangelise a bad one:

“I’ve tried to evangelize people with great stuff, and I’ve tried to evangelize people with crap.
Evangelism is much easier with great stuff.”

So, choose great products or services to promote. Kawasaki puts it this way:

“I call this ‘Guy’s Golden Touch.’ It doesn’t mean that whatever I touch turns to gold. I wish. It means, ‘Whatever is gold, Guy touches.'”

If the starting point is a great product, what does that look like?

For Kawasaki, that means find a product that is both:

  • Differentiated in the market (it’s not just the same as what everyone else is doing)
  • Valuable (it delivers a real and valued value proposition to an audience)
Guy Kawasaki Evangelism Diagram
  • If you have high differentiation in the market and high value, you are in the zone for cutting through and creating value – and evangelising to build a cult following.
  • If you have high value and low differentiation you are in a competitive space – and it will be harder to cut through and to evangelise.
  • If you have high differentiation and low low value to a market, it will be hard to sell – and perhaps it’s time to pivot to a new market focus where your differentiation can add greater value.
  • If you have no value and no differentiation, it’s time to rethink the business.

The underlying principle here is:

  • Being highly differentiated helps with marketing – you stand out more easily, there is less competition
  • Being highly valuable helps with your sales – your value proposition is clear and compelling, and aligned to the buyers’ needs.

Put the two together, and you have a very compelling combo.

Put It To Work For Your Business

Whether or not you want to evangelise a product, this is a good strategic lens to keep in mind.

Let me know how you apply this – I’d love to hear your feedback!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I help these leaders sharpen their ideas and messages to cut through and be heard.

And I work with strategy so that have clarity, the right plan, and the right action steps to get to where they want to get to.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/