In-Synk Blog

This blog is all about my latest insights into growth, strategy, and execution.

Consultant or Coach?

Coach or Consultant? Who Do You Need? - Michael Synk - In-Synk Coaching - #GetInSynk

Consultant or coach? That’s an important question to consider. Whether you are facing an obstacle, attacking an opportunity, or creating alignment to drive growth, you need to think. Maybe you don’t need either.

A consultant fishes. A coach teaches you how to fish.

Simple cliche that captures most of what I’m trying to convey.

1–If you are attacking an obstacle or an opportunity, that has to be addressed and addressed right, and you realize that you and your team don’t remotely have the ability to execute on it, then you need a consultant. A good consultant knows the territory. He can come right in and do it for you and do it right, especially if it’s urgent.

2–If you are attacking an obstacle or an opportunity, that has to be addressed and addressed right, and you feel you have talented people (although they may lack knowledge or experience, or they appear to be stuck in the weeds on it) who can get it done, then you need a coach. A good coach knows the territory, has the ability to teach, can facilitate the dialogue that will sort out your plan of attack for your team, and can hold people accountable to doing it. Coaches work well in both urgent and non-urgent, yet important, situations.

3–If you need help prioritizing, planning, motivating, or staying on track, you could probably use a coach as well. Again, a good coach can teach, facilitate the process of making good decisions, and hold the team accountable for long term growth.

With #1 you get it done and get it done right, but you give up control. It can also become expensive. The ROI is usually good but limited to the obstacle/opportunity at hand.

With #2 and #3, it gets done and gets done right. You are involved in the process. Everyone involved becomes better leaders and teammates. You gain control instead of losing it (at least that’s how it works when I’m your coach).

While coaching is perceived to be expensive, it’s usually less expensive than alternatives, and the ROI goes well beyond the benefit of addressing the obstacle/opportunity at hand.

As a coach, I handle #2 (address obstacles/opportunities) and #3 (prioritize, facilitate, and hold teams accountable for long term growth).

So, do you need a consultant or a coach?

Click here ( to set up a discovery meeting (no fee) to determine how my coaching would help you move forward.

Click here ( to learn more about the ways I coach owners/entrepreneurs/CEOs.

What’s Up with Wells Fargo and United Airlines and Their Core Values?

Two Core Values Questions to Avoid Crisis - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

We’ve all observed the events of the recent past at both Wells Fargo and United Airlines. I’ve been trying to decipher the facts from the attacks while attempting to make sense of what seems to be core values gone awry. Shareholders, analysts, media, and the general public have been taking pot shots at both companies. No wonder as they appear to lack any customer-centric core values and have ONLY what seems to be reverence for the almighty dollar.

At Wells Fargo, millions of fake accounts were opened to meet sales quotas, accruing service charges from customers who were unaware they had these fake accounts opened in their names.

We have all seen the video of the United Airline’s customer being dragged off the plane after refusing to give up his seat.

Two questions come to mind that should guide you on what to do within your own company. Consider these questions to make sure your core values are lived each and every day, fully and correctly.

  • Who is responsible for making sure your company lives and breathes your company’s core values? In all organizations, that person is the head of the company. He needs to live them, communicate them, make sure methods and practices align with them, and then reward those who live them, therefore he also needs to punish those who violate them. There is no way around this. Core values start at the top, and the shareholders of Wells Fargo seem to agree. They hammered the board in last week’s shareholder meeting and support votes, which you can read all about here. If the leader of your organization doesn’t live your company’s core values, then those values simply don’t exist.


  • Do your business processes, methods, and practices make it easy for your team to live the core values? Apparently not at United Airlines. I know a number of people who work for the airline. They are great, loving, caring individuals who do their jobs well. I’ll bet most United Airlines personnel try hard to live the core values of the company. Knowing the procedures the staff was expected to follow in this highly publicized situation, the question must be asked. Would it have been easy for any of them to do something different than what ended up happening? It appears that there was no alignment between their core values and this particular company process. Processes and people have to be aligned with core values. The key word in that phrase is “and.”  At least it appears that the CEO, after initially bungling things, is taking firm actions to create alignment between the people AND processes and the airline’s core values.

If you are the leader of your organization, and you ask yourself those two questions regularly, you should do okay with these things. If not, then you should expect trouble.

Help with defining your core values, communicating them, and making sure they live within your organization is available. A Gazelles coach like myself is a good resource for accomplishing these tasks, and it’s an integral part of creating an effective strategic plan. It’s something I help my clients with all the time. Be happy to help.

Run Hard, Finish Strong, No Fear

Run Hard, Finish Strong, No Fear - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Five years ago, when I coached the Central High School cross country team, I used this mantra/chant, “Run Hard, Finish Strong, No Fear.” We did a give out/give back cheer at the beginning of each practice and before every race. I would say “run” and the team would yell “hard.” I would say “finish”, they would yell “strong.” I would finally say “no”, and they would yell “fear.”




It worked well to get the team focused for the day and for the race at hand. We went undefeated in the regular season. The team won the league championship. We only missed winning the city championship by 3 points, a score so close that for a few agonizing minutes White Station thought they had lost to us.

I believe this is a good mantra for entrepreneurs and business owners, too, especially the third part, “no fear.” Let me explain.

Run Hard. Okay, maybe it should be “work hard”, but leading a business always feels like you are running, so either works. Work hard on the important parts of the business that are important. New initiatives that create growth, customer and new product development, building on the strengths of the organization are important. Make sure everyone else is working on those important things, too.

Finish Strong. Every initiative, project, and effort gets bogged down at some point or other. You’ve got to bring them home strong. Finish them up, and pull them together so they will make a difference, motivate others, and move the company forward.

No Fear. This is the tough one. Fear can be paralyzing. We all have fears and entrepreneurs/owners usually feel the pressure of them very strongly. Face the fears first. Then determine how you would proceed if you had no fears. Proceed in that manner to overcome those fears.

More and more I find myself using the “No Fear” mantra with my business clients. It gives them strength to power through their fears.

Back in the day, I would also say “beat” and the team would yell “White Station.” I wonder if Fred Smith, Chairman of FedEx, says “beat” and his CEOs yell “UPS” or “Brown” back?

Do You Hire Slow and Fire Fast?

Hire Slow and Fire Fast - #GetInSynk - Michael Synk - In-Synk Coaching

Yesterday, I was reminded of this great observation from Jim Collins in his book Good To Great, that the “great” companies hire slow and fire fast.

This came to me while facilitating a quarterly session for one of my favorite clients. Our sessions together are always productive and engaging and fun, but yesterday’s session was definitely more upbeat and enjoyable. The team was enjoying each other. As a result, the dialogue was especially productive. It was a  downright good time. It proved to be more motivating and confidence building than usual and especially more so than the last one.

Rather than assume it was just my superior facilitation and coaching skills, I took time to ponder what was different this time. We had two new staff members with us, so I assume that helped as fresh faces usually bring energy. But, I also noticed that one person was missing.  

A staff member who had been struggling with teamwork, communication, and delegation with her staff wasn’t there. Her performance and her staff’s performance had been suffering. She had been let go.

It was as if a burden had been lifted. Now, the staff members previously working under her weren’t afraid of engaging in the meeting. They became outspoken, and they could laugh at themselves instead of being defensive. It changed the tone of the entire meeting.

The leader of this organization had been delaying dealing with the situation for some time, for some legitimate reasons, to be sure. However, at the end of the day, we both agreed he should have moved faster on it.

Hire slow; fire fast. Such a wise statement.

Next time you have a nagging performance issue, refer back to this nugget. If you follow it, you just might just unleash some growth.

What Do You Say When Someone on Your Team Brings You a Problem?

What do you say when someone on your team brings you a problem? - Michael Synk - In-Synk Growth Coaching - #GetInSynk

Someone on your team brings you a problem. You probably don’t jump up and down with excitement, but how do you handle this when it happens? Are you grateful; do you say “thank you”? Or, do you shoot the messenger?

Choose the first option.

The first reason you should say “thank you” is that a problem is a gift. It’s something that can probably be solved to improve your company. Think of problems as opportunities. You want people to bring you problems. You do not want your team members to be discouraged. This leads to the second reason to be grateful for these opportunities.

The second reason you should say “thank you” is because, it means the “messenger” coming to you cares about your company. He/She is engaged. This person wants to improve things. You want people like this in your company.

The third reason you should say “thank you” is because if you don’t, people won’t bring up additional problems that need to be solved.

After saying “thank you”, make sure you truly listen, and then make sure the issue gets addressed. This doesn’t necessarily mean the problem must be addressed by you or the other person, but by those who can fix it.

Then, make sure to give updates on the progress.

When you do this, people will bring you more gifts. Remember, you now see problems as gifts. By addressing them, you unleash growth in so many different ways.

It all starts by saying “thank you.”

Four Ways to Get Return On Clarity

4 Ways to Get Return on Clarity by Michael Synk - In-Synk - #GetInSynk

I’ll bet you are familiar with ROI, Return On Investment, but are you familiar with ROC, Return On Clarity?

You experience ROC when you work on your complex business. You make it easy to understand for your customers, staff, vendors, and partners. Lots of opportunities exist to do this with your business or organization.

The obvious place to start is by creating an easy to understand strategic plan (I know just the person to help you create one of those with your team ;-).  A good One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) sets the purpose, values, strategy, and direction for the company.  A good OPSP makes it easy for your team to enact.

You can also get a Return On Clarity by doing reviews or tune-ups of the various parts or departments of your business.  Cleaning up or refreshing your processes, eliminating unnecessary steps, and attacking the bottlenecks or choke points within your processes are parts of an effective tune-up. Here’s a little video I did on bottlenecks that should help you get the idea.

You can also get a ROC by doing a Talent Review.  When done effectively, you get a clear picture on who is performing and who isn’t. Therefore, you get a return by hiring better players and improving the players you already have.

Finally you can a Return On Clarity by doing a Cash Flow Tune Up. By looking at your Income Statement levers and Balance Sheet levers, you can achieve some instant clarity on how to improve your cash. Soon, I’ll be posting a video on my YouTube channel on Cash Flow Clarity. Subscribe to my channel be notified of new videos.

You see, there are lots of opportunities to increase your clarity. When you increase clarity, you unleash growth.

All of these are things a coach should be helping you with.  That’s what I do for my clients. Deliver a Return On Clarity.  It’s a great investment in the growth of your business.

Why Should Your Company Have a BHAG?

Having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal is important for your company. Why? - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Recently, I had a meeting with a former client. During this meeting, he reminded me about why Big Hairy Audacious Goals are an important part of your company’s strategic plan.

We were meeting about a matter totally unrelated to a BHAG, his strategic plan, or the coaching I provided for him ten years ago. Eric Mathews of Start Co. and I were encouraging him to make a small investment to subsidize Rockefeller Habits coaching for Start Co. startups that are ready to scale up.

My former client said, “I was at the office and noticed that the BHAG you helped us develop was still posted on the wall. We set it for ten years out, and it will be ten years this year. We are going to hit  and exceed the BHAG.”

As you can imagine, I’m quite proud of this guy. I’m walking a little bit taller this week. He is one of the first clients I worked with on creating a One Page Strategic Plan. He’ll be the first to achieve his BHAG.

What happens when you don’t think of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal? When you don’t set a BHAG, you’ll never get there. It’s best when setting out on a journey to know where you’re going. Even if you don’t reach or exceed your BHAG, like my former client, chances are that you will be much closer to that goal than you were before.

Of course, he paid his success forward by making an investment to subsidize Rockefeller Habits coaching for two Start Co. startups.

The “Paying Forward The Rockefeller Habits” program is an exciting one. I’ll write more about it soon.

There’s Something About Bottlenecks…

There's Something About Bottlenecks - In-Synk Coaching - #GetInSynk - Michael Synk

Bottlenecks are in your business. There is something about bottlenecks that you should be relentlessly be paying attention to.

You face bottlenecks everywhere in your business. You’ll find them externally in the marketplaces or industry you participate in. You may see them internally in the processes you follow, the people you employ, the technologies you employ, or your organizational structures.

As I’ve come to appreciate during my time as a strategy and execution coach, the major game changing improvements (rocks vs. sand) you make to your business are inevitably tied to the bottlenecks you face. You have to be relentlessly looking for the bottlenecks and discussing how to leverage them, destroy them, open them up, and/or go around them.

To be able to do this successfully, you have to acknowledge that everything you do in your business is part of a process. Some of the processes are external, and you have little to no control over them. The rest of the processes are internal, and you have lots of control over them. You have to look at everything as a process. If you can’t accept that everything is part of a process, trying to find bottlenecks is just about impossible.

You have to look in the mirror when doing this as well. Are you, as the leader of your organization, the bottleneck? Do not overlook yourself. There is a reason that the bottleneck is at the top of the bottle.

Acknowledge process and the place and purpose bottlenecks play in your organization. Then find them, and start working on finding solutions to them. When you do this relentlessly, you will unleash the growth from your organization.


Start Measuring Something, Then Get Better At It

Start Measuring Something, Then Get Better At It - #GetInSynk - In-Synk

I was working with a client recently on creating scorecards for the key positions within their company. When we got to the point of measuring outcomes he said, “We haven’t tracked data on this function before, so we have nothing to go on.”

I took out the velvet glove and applied it quite liberally to this person. “Why should that stop you? You have some sort of idea about how the main responsibility for the position should be executed, don’t you?”

A plan followed. You might find these steps could help you, too.

  1. Draw up a flow chart of the process that should be followed.
  2. Take a guess at how many times it needs to be done correctly or how well it needs to be done or how fast it needs to be done.
  3. Start measuring.

It might not be completely accurate when you start, but as you track it you’ll get better at understanding the metric. At that point, start modifying it and get better and better at it. You’ll then have a great measurement for the position or process going forward.

When you have a history of data on something that you need to measure, take advantage of that. However, don’t let the lack of history keep you from measuring as you move forward. If you don’t have the history to start with, there’s no better time than the present to start making that history.


Why Should You Know the “Heck Out Of” Your People?

Do You Know the Heck Out Of Your People? #GetInSynk Michael Synk In-Synk Coaching

All the great leadership techniques and practices in the world are meaningless if you don’t know the “heck out of” your people.

There are good reasons for knowing those around you well and understanding the people working to build your company.

Two reasons why:

  • When you don’t know your people, you can’t empower them. You can not tap into their insights and expertise or meaningfully celebrate their successes. You’re not able to communicate the vision in ways meaningful to them. These are all essential elements of leading. You and your management teams need to be the best leaders you can possible be.
  • But more importantly, when you don’t know your people, they know you don’t know them. Then, they arrive at the conclusion that you don’t care about them. They disengage and treat their positions like grunt work. This leads them to find meaning elsewhere.

So, what should you do about it? Focus on getting to know your people better, professionally and personally. The personally is probably more important than the professionally. See the second bullet point from above.

Something else you can do about it? If you’re in Memphis (or want to make a trip to town), come to the Get In-Synk CEO Briefing on February 1oth at the Triumph Bank HQ.  The subject is Improving Your Team to Fuel Growth. We’ll be reviewing two books by Pat Lencioni. Each teach you how to know the “heck out of” your people to unleash the growth in your organization. Use this link get your ticket, and join me in February:


Get In-Synk Updates

Email Preferences