Would Getting Naked help with your clients?

surprise

Would you like to make more money?  How about having clients who absolutely rave about you and are willing to pay you a premium for what you do for them?

Then you should definitely consider Getting Naked for your business!

Of course I’m not talking literally…I’m saying you should start adopting the ideas from Patrick Lencioni’s latest book ‘Getting Naked’.  The premise of the book is using a different kind of approach with clients – being vulnerable and opening yourself up without any pretense or cover.  I think of it as being really authentic…all the time, with everyone, warts and all!

You may have heard of Lencioni previously – he’s the author of several extremely popular and insightful business books, including ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team’ and ‘The 5 Temptations of a CEO’.  His books are written as business fables, which makes them fun to read, but the ideas are still very powerful.

So what does Getting Naked really mean?  Let’s take a look:

I had ‘Getting Naked’ on my bookshelf for a few months…it was in the queue but I hadn’t had a chance to read it and then I had it strongly recommended to me by 3 people over the holidays so I jumped it to the top of the list (and I’m glad I did).

It’s written from a consulting viewpoint, which definitely lined up with my Accenture background, but it applies to anyone who’s interacting with clients.  I’ve seen variations on this theme at lots of different kinds of companies.

The heart of the book is all about the idea that customer loyalty and trust is built around relationships and results and the only way to have authentic relationships is to be transparent and to be real with your clients at all time.  However many organizations focus on portraying perfection at all times and that gets them into trouble.  First off it’s not true (even the experts aren’t perfect all the time), it’s not real or authentic and it doesn’t build relationships…and therefore doesn’t build customer trust or loyalty.

Getting Naked is about overcoming 3 Fears

Lencioni outlines three fears that are at the root of why most companies focus so much on the false front of being superior at all things.  Let’s take a look at all 3 fears:

Fear of Losing the Business

I believe this fear is more prevalent than ever with a challenging economy and businesses struggling more.  It’s completely natural and in fact when you really need the business, either because you’re just starting out or going through a rough patch it’s almost impossible not to have this fear.

However, contrast that situation with a business owner who doesn’t actually need the business – at that point, you’re confident, you’re relaxed and you’re not pressing – additionally (and even more important) you can afford to really recommend what’s in the best interest of the client…and not necessarily the biggest payout for you.  All of those things are attractive traits for your clients or prospective clients and a great basis for a trusting relationship.

Fear of Being Embarrassed

This is all about pride and not willing to be seen as wrong in public at any point.  No one likes to be embarrassed, so again this is a very natural fear and for most people the default action is protecting your image and doing what ever you can to look ‘right’.

There are a couple of drawbacks to playing it safe and being the expert.  You will only stay on the safe and proven path, so you lose the ability to learn new things, to try new things or to recommend new things…because everyone runs a serious risk of looking foolish when trying something new.  However it’s the innovation and learning from failures that gets you to new heights.  Playing it safe also means you’re not completely engaging – you’re holding back and that’s not good for building relationships either.

Fear of Feeling Inferior

Similar to the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of feeling inferior (or looking inferior) is all about the need to be perceived as an equal (or maybe a superior) to your client.  This fear leads to situations where you’re not willing to get down into the dirt and make something happen.  To protect yourself, you make it clear you’re not the ‘hired help’ you are an expert.  (CEOs and Executives make this mistake a lot within companies as well).

The reality is that business is hard and you need all hands on deck if you’re going to succeed.  If you truly have your client’s best interests at heart, if you’re really a partner to them, you’ll chip in and do whatever needs to be done to help them improve.

Summary

There are a lot of other great points covered in the book – things like:

  • Consult instead of sell
  • Tell the kind truth (using empathy to tell your client where they’re making mistakes)
  • Make it all about the client
  • Make dumb suggestions
  • Ask dumb questions

What really resonated for me was the idea of always putting the client first.  By doing the right thing for them, good things will happen (kind of a karma thing, but not as big of a leap).  By authentically building relationships, you will have a great connection with your clients and you can help them with really difficult situations.  When it’s done right, you become part of their business (maybe even their family) and they can’t imagine moving forward without you.  If you ask me, that’s an awfully powerful competitive advantage…and it’s one that anyone willing to ‘Get Naked’ can achieve!

What do you think?  Do you know of someone who works like this?  Have you read the book?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “Would Getting Naked help with your clients?”

  1. Kerry Kinkade says:

    Shawn,

    Great issue this time. Your topic on openess and honesty was a great one for consulting and really businesses in general. I recently read a book called “Tactical Transparency” by Shel Holtz and John C Havens. This book deals with the best approaches to social media for businesses. It is full of examples where companies benefitted from being very open with the public vs the old school approach of cleverly worded press releases that hide the issues. It would be great if all business leaders could open up with customers and employees both.

  2. Kerry – thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll have to check it out. I really think that concept of openness is becoming a critical component for business success. We all have choices in who we do business with, and I think most of us prefer a company that we know, like and trust…!

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