There are a plethora of books, publications and commentary about what skills and attributes are necessary to be an impactful leader in business, as well as in life. However, where those may focus on what to say, how to act, or ways to create change, a primary feature of a great leader is the willingness and ability to listen. Not just biding time during a conversation, thinking about what you want to say and pretending to listen until you get a chance to speak, but focusing on what is actually being said and what it might mean to that person.
When I first started out at Civil Demand Associates I brought with me this unique skill set which I continue to use today. Knowing ones product/ service is only a portion of this art. Knowing the needs of your client is probably more important and in order to determine needs one needs to ask pertinent questions and listen attentively. Once the answer is heard a solution can be either developed or provided.
As a solution provider it is our job to try and develop products and services based on the vision provided by our clients. Not by reaction but by a combination of experience, vision and a overall ability to see the need for an entire industry. From there development should be tested by early adaptors who have the same vision.
Delivery promises should not be over stated. Never say you can deliver when you can’t. It would be better to build it first because you will usually only get one shot to come up with a game changer. It is also important not to oversell. Once a decision maker has been persuaded have the sense to stop selling at that point. This could be categorized as knowing when to be silent and move on. All of this is a part of the art of listening.
Civil Demand Associates was founded in 1987 on some of these very principles. Retailers were struggling to send demand letters and tracking payments manually. Fifteen states had civil recovery laws most of which were in the west. CDA was established as a way to outsource this valuable revenue stream as well as a way to help provide a financial deterrent. CDA was the first company to develop software and business logic designed to handle thousands of files, payments and reporting.
In the years to follow clients brought other types of theft cases for collection. Dishonest employee restitution collections, court ordered restitution and vendor fraud to mention a few. All these have added to CDA’s offering so that a well-rounded service with no initial investment is now available on a contingency basis.
In 2010 CDA brought forth a new concept to combat major organized retail crime by using federal civil RICO statutes to seize assets of those at the top of these illegal enterprises.
As you can see it all comes down to listening to the needs of the industry and developing means to help loss prevention practitioners bring back lost profits to the bottom line.