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A few years ago, I stood beside a friend as he sold his car. It wasn’t just any car – it was a vehicle that he had since he was 16 years old and cared about deeply. He had put a lot of time, money, and effort into seeing that it ran just the way he wanted it to. It looked beautiful and performed exceptionally well. So, when he went to sell it, he was looking for someone who was going to appreciate it. He kept telling me, “I’m not sure who I’ll be comfortable selling this to. It is just so personal for me.”

While this may have been true for my friend and his car, this is often the case for anything in which we invest our time, talent, and resources. We desire to see our efforts honored and to know people will care as we have. We frequently hear this from business owners, only magnified, when they are considering selling their business. Their organization is something that they’ve devoted much of their life to building – coming in early, staying late, employing friends, celebrating wins, picking up from failures. It often becomes an important part of their life, so parting ways can be difficult.

This highlights the importance of finding someone who values the business for the same reasons a seller does. “Are they going to treat my employees as respected colleagues or simply commodities?” “Will they honor our values or view them as disposable?” These are the types of questions that can run through the mind of someone thinking about selling their business. When this is the case, then finding the right buyer really does matter. They can help bring a peace-of-mind and assurance that there is something good worth preserving and carrying forward into the future.

This values-aligned approach to buying and selling a business can take time and expertise in finding the right “fit.” Patience can often lead to a harmonious transition that minimizes disruptions inside the business and allows leaders to smoothly transfer loyalty to a new owner.

When my friend finally found the right buyer for his classic car, the woman showed up and walked around the vehicle several times. She inspected everything and asked good questions. “You have a beautiful car here. I’ve been looking for one in nice condition for a long time. I’ll take it,” she informed him. The woman had demonstrated care for the car, for its history, and for preserving its beauty into the future. So, it was no surprise to see my friend stand in the driveway until the car was out of site, and utter the words, “I’m glad I sold it to her.”

If values-alignment matters to you in buying or selling a business, being patient in finding the right party will pay dividends in satisfaction and contentment. We would be honored to begin this conversation with you.

There are few things more amazing than watching a well-orchestrated team working together – no matter the sport, business, or organization.

For several years, I coached high school soccer and worked alongside some excellent coaches. While we taught skills, fitness, tactics, and strategy, one of these coaches pointed out the enduring factor in winning soccer programs – culture. This proved true when two years later the best team that came through the program was not the most technically skilled team, but instead the most cohesive team on the field. The players worked as one unit. While several players were highly talented, they were unselfish and humble on the field. When anyone made a mistake, they would pick their teammate up and carry on. They held each other accountable, which created an implicit trust between them. At the end of their first season playing together, they had gone further than any team in recent school history.

Were they victorious because of their raw talent alone? Certainly not. Instead, they succeeded because there was a team culture consisting of: expecting excellence, working hard, respecting others, and humility. These elements became their values and drove their behavior. It led them to accomplish more together than any one of them could have achieved individually.

The importance of culture is equally significant in our businesses and organizations. When we think of competitive advantages, our minds can quickly move to proprietary products, services, or processes that individual businesses possess. While this may be the case, these factors alone will not guarantee success in the long run. Instead, it is our culture that becomes our differentiator, even our competitive advantage. We can attract greater talent, gain more consistent results, and increase both our employee and customer satisfaction.

As we enter 2019, may we take a lesson from a group of high school soccer players who recognized the importance of building a positive culture and seeing the results it can achieve.

Last fall, I was playing golf with a friend when I was reminded of an important leadership lesson – the power of assessment. I was getting ready to make a long fairway shot, a shot I had struggled with the whole round. Before I approached the ball, my friend casually said, “Josh, I’ve been watching you all day. Don’t try to crush the ball. Just work on hitting it in the sweet spot.” I shrugged and figured it couldn’t hurt given the lack of success so far. I took my time, swung the club, and watched as the ball soared longer and straighter than it had all day. Surprised, I turned around to see my friend with a big grin on his face. Shaking his head, he simply stated, “I learned a while ago that these clubs are designed in a specific way. I can swing harder or softer, compensate right or left, but it’s much easier if I just work on my form and let them function the way they were designed – using their sweet spot.”

“Duh!” I wanted to exclaim to myself. It seemed so elementary, but my mind was already connecting this simple concept to how we function in our roles at work. Here I had a bag full of clubs that all serve a specific purpose, and when utilized together, made for a beautiful round of golf.

Our companies and organizations are full of people who all serve a specific purpose and, when working together, make for an exciting and energizing place to work. The challenge can come when we are missing a few clubs (key personnel) or not using our clubs (personnel) properly. As leaders, it is our job to make sure we have the right people and, as Jim Collins puts it, that they are in the right seats (right positions).

When we have been functioning one way, however, it can become hard to objectively see what clubs are missing, or how the wrong club is being used for a particular shot. It can be amazingly helpful when a friend speaks up and shares with us what they have been observing. It’s the power of assessment. Just like I had tried all sorts of different techniques to correct my fairway shot, perhaps you have tried different theories and strategies to take your company to the next level.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give your company is an objective assessment of your organization’s health and performance. We would be honored to discuss how North Group can be helpful to you and your team.

Take the time to assess – it may even take a few strokes off your next round!