By Phil Elworth a Partner with B2B CFO® in Chicago

One thing I try and accomplish with each of my clients, is to help them gain clarity around who they are and what they do.  This topic was recently documented in a very instructive way by Patrick Lencioni in his latest book called The Advantage: Organizational Health Model.  After reading the book and hearing him speak at a leadership conference, I decided to sit back and relook at my own business, which as a partner with B2B CFO® in Chicago is helping business owners achieve a higher level of success both running and exiting their business.

I believe this is a healthy exercise for everyone; whether you are running a business; thinking about going out on your own as a consultant; or even for those seeking full time employment.  Having clarity around who you are and what you plan to do is critical to success.  Patrick’s questions are as follows and I will unpack each of them in turn:

  • Why do you exist?
  • How do you behave?
  • What do you do?
  • How will you succeed?
  • What is most important, right now?
  • Who must do what?

The first question, why do we exist, is a very probing one.  Does your business exist to make money or is this a byproduct of a broader purpose?  I was recently at a conference on exit planning and one of the participants, who is very successful in writing exit plans for business owners, stated that she felt “called” to do this work.  She was a partner in a CPA firm and a valuation expert, she sold the practice and moved full time into exit planning.  She had a purpose much larger than just making money.  So why are you doing what you do?

Second, how do we behave?  At B2B CFO® we have three core values; Honesty, Integrity and Objectivity.  These three values are very near and dear to me personally which is why the firm is a good fit for me.  I constantly work my decision making and daily behavior against these core values.  In fact living by these values helps me sleep at night.  If you have not identified your core values I suggest you start by looking at your behavior over the past couple years and how it affected your decisions.   A close and honest examination will take you far in understanding how you behave.  When you know these behaviors, you will know which organizations will be right for you.

Patrick’s third question, what do you do; Can be stated another way; what are your core competencies?  By performing the work you do best, you will achieve a higher level of success, but have you ever sat back and analyzed just what you are good at?  If there is a missing competency, go ahead and work toward adding it to your arsenal.  I do this all the time, when I come across something that would help my clients; I develop the new competency.  This helps me to expand the answer to the first question.  But it all starts by defining what you are going to do.

How will you succeed?  I have written before on the topic of goal clarity.  If you want to succeed, you have to have clearly defined and written goals that you can review and track on an ongoing basis.  This helps drive the behavior you need to achieve success.  Success is defined differently by every organization; what is yours?

What is most important, right now?  The key to any plan is to have a clear goal, a clear strategy then identify the one NEXT thing you need to do, to work toward achieving the goal.  As a certified coach at B2B CFO® I help new partners establish their long term goals, then break them down into mid-term goals then on down to this week.  Knowing what the one next thing you need to accomplish to move toward a goal is a very freeing concept.  You don’t worry about the whole project, just the one next step.  Do you know what your next step is?

Finally, who will do what?  If you are a business owner and have employees this is critical.  You must create clarity around your table so that everyone knows who is responsible for what.  With one of my clients we recently performed an exercise where the entire staff was asked to put together 6 key goals they would accomplish over the next six weeks.  This was done at a senior leadership level and not by me.  I interceded with the staff that I was working with and when I had them explain further what their goals were, I found that three of them had intended to do the same project.  I obviously used that opportunity to divide up the work.  Had I not sought that clarity much time would have been wasted.  If you are working on your own it may seem obvious that it is you, but I ask you to think again.  What resources do you have available that could help you do the next best step for you, so that you may concentrate on your core competency and thus move closer to accomplishing your goal?

If you would like help in bringing clarity to your organization, as a partner B2B CFO® I am well position to help you bring your business to a higher level.

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