If you ask the usual questions, you’ll get the usual responses... I have developed unique exercises to help you bypass these platitudes.
They typically start by asking questions around core competencies, core values, and strengths. If working with individuals, you’d be asked what you are passionate about.
All this sounds reasonable until you realize that none of this gets to the core problem you are (or your company is) driven to solve. It doesn’t get to the core problem because it asks all the usual and expected questions that trigger your brain to give all the usual and expected responses.
Net result. You’re no further ahead than where you were before the process
If you ask the usual and expected questions, you’ll get the usual and expected responses
This is precisely why there are still many retail stores who think that ’Sales. Service. Selection.’ is a unique tagline. It’s why there continue to be many financial advisors who believe they are the only ones who ‘truly care about their clients’. It’s why so many companies of all kinds think ‘it’s our people who make the difference’.
Which is as true as it is ‘meh’.
In my practice, I have developed a number of exercises and processes that help people bypass these platitudes, and make the invisible, visible. One of my favorite approaches is called, ‘What Drives You Crazy Makes You Great.’
It’s a counter-intuitive approach that bypasses the knee-jerk responses and helps you dig down the core problem that serves as the foundation for your core messaging.
If you’re up for it (and you’ve got a pen handy), try this… look at other people and companies in your space – maybe even direct competitors – and ask yourself what they are doing ‘wrong’? Where are they missing the point? Why are they not achieving the best results for their customers and clients?
Each time you think you have an answer, keep digging by dissecting why the solution is ‘wrong,’ or why/when/with whom it doesn’t work.
(Yes, this can be difficult to do on your own; that’s why there’s a ‘contact us’ button on my website.)
If you are uncomfortable with the emphasis on negativity of this approach, remember that this is a discovery tool – it’s not intended to help you ‘slag’ the competition.
You’ll know when you get to the core problem you solve when:
- 1It’s linked to a experience in your own life or career when you (or someone very close to you) faced a similar core problem
- 2You can distill the great problems of the world (or your industry) down to this fundamental problem?
- 3it suggests a unique and critical step in your process that differentiates your approach or business in the marketplace
As a leader, you have the biggest influence on the culture, the goals, the vision and the process by which you go about fulfilling it.
By discovering, acknowledging and valuing what sets you apart from other leaders, you begin to go down a path of self-discovery that lies at the heart of Differentiation-Based Leadership.
At the most selfish level, knowing your own true differentiation simply makes you better equipped to articulate your personal strategic competitive advantage – it makes you more marketable as a leader.
More importantly, discovering your own true differentiation allows you to more genuinely value the unique strengths that the other people on your team bring to the organization. It helps you harness your center of authenticity – which makes you more powerful as a leader. It helps you encourage others through a similar process of self-discovery.
And, quite simply, it allows you to lead by example.
So whether you’re a solopreneur looking to establish your business, a start-up looking to attract investors, or a business leader looking to make your mark on your organization, try asking yourself ‘what drives you crazy?’
It just might lead you to what makes you great… that leads to messaging that distinguishes you, differentiates you, and attracts the right people.