LEAPP Ahead to Success: Leadership, Empathy, and the Power of Persuasion

Do you wonder why some businesses succeed while others fail? The answer is leadership: doing the right things, at the right time, through people. If you are seeking proven ways to improve your leadership skills, and your chances for success, then the LEAPP Ahead System: Leadership, Empathy, and the Power of Persuasion, developed by retired business executive Jim McGraw, is worthy of examination.
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McGraw’s leadership philosophies come from his years serving as COO, corporate officer, and board member at Marion Laboratories (Kansas City), a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company founded by the late Ewing Kauffman. McGraw was also a charter board member, and ultimately chairman, of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. McGraw has gathered what he’s learned throughout his career and today shares his wisdom free of charge to help a new generation. Thousands of business people, entrepreneurs, and students have benefitted from McGraw’s compelling LEAPP Ahead program. BPN shares some key elements that McGraw used to help take Marion Labs, the business Ewing Kauffman started in his basement in 1950 with a $5000 loan, into a billion-dollar success.

McGraw is uniquely qualified to share his ideas on management and leadership. Not unlike many retail propane marketers, he worked his way up the corporate ladder from humble beginnings. In 1974, he joined Marion Laboratories in Kansas City, and worked for the company founder for the next 16 years.

Marion Laboratories became one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies in sales and profits, with record-breaking stock prices on the New York Stock Exchange during the 1980s. McGraw’s leadership style earned him the respect of his contemporaries and the loyalty of his associates. As his responsibilities grew he eventually came to serve as COO of the vast pharmaceutical enterprise.

In addition to helping to build a business that was recognized as one of the best places to work in the United States, McGraw also shared his leadership expertise with associates at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a philanthropic organization that Kauffman founded prior to the company’s merger in 1989 that created Marion Merrill Dow Corp. Kauffman served as chairman emeritus of the company, which he had grown to become a global diversified healthcare giant with nearly $1 billion in sales and 3400 associates. Through the efforts of Kauffman and McGraw — and the efforts of many others — hundreds of members of the Marion Laboratories workforce, including secretaries and line foremen, retired as millionaires.

McGraw, now retired, travels the country to share what he has learned throughout his career and while working for Kauffman with thousands of businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs, and students who benefit from his LEAPP Ahead System.

LEAPP stands for Leadership, Empathy, and the Power of Persuasion and is a skill-building program that can be implemented by any business to boost productivity and success.

The Leadership component refers to one of the elements necessary for running a successful business, along with integrity and communication skills. McGraw defines Leadership as the “ability to achieve the right objectives, on time, and through people.” He further identifies his Five Building Blocks of Leadership:

1. Treat others as you want to be treated. View your employees as assets.
2. Share with those who produce results. By giving recognition and sharing financially, you build a strong team.
3. Provide clarity of direction. Make your objectives clear and specific, and limit them to five or six.
4. Provide clarity of organization. Have the right people, in the right place, doing the right job.
5. Provide clarity of measurement. Clearly stated objectives allow you to ask, “Are we on plan? If not, why not?
6. What must we do to get back on plan?”

The second component of McGraw’s LEAPP Ahead system is Empathy. He emphasizes that one important aspect of empathy is to get out of the office and listen to customers; the critical component is listening. Listening helps to identify the benefits of your product from your customer’s point of view.

Figure out your customer’s decision-making motives for buying your product. After food, clothing, and shelter McGraw lists four basic motivations for buying a product.

1. Personal gain. This can be illustrated by special pricing such as: Today Only, 50% Off; Buy One, Get One Free.
2. Security. Buying insurance, alarm system, etc.
3. Pride. Buying a Mercedes to let people know you’ve done well.
4. Convenience. Buying products that make your life easier, i.e., cell phones, snow blowers, etc.

Knowing what need or motive your product fulfills is vital.

The third and final component of McGraw’s LEAPP Ahead System is the Power of Persuasion.

You need to address five key questions that customers want answered before they buy a product.

1. What is your product or service?
2. What benefits does it offer?
3. What advantages does it have over the competition?
4. Who pays for it?
5. What’s in it for me?

You must incorporate and answer the above questions in any sales presentation and logically and empathetically convince the customer to buy your product. You must also use the following Persuasion Formula developed by McGraw:

1. Opener — I know you’re looking for a reliable and less costly way to fuel your home or business.
2. Tie-In — Propane is a clean, economical solution to reduce your energy bills.
3. Proof — Propane water heaters save up to 50% on your utility bill.
4. Close — Can we upgrade you to XZY Propane’s service? When would you like to schedule your free installation?

In the Opener indicate you understand your customer’s needs. In the Tie-In tell the customer you have a solution for his or her need. In the Proof you provide the customer examples of how your product works, and advantages it offers compared to the competition. Clearly identify the benefit or decision-making motive — gain, security, pride, and convenience — you are appealing to. In the Close, ask the customer to make a decision and suggest an action.

If you are interested in taking your business to the next level using the LEAPP Ahead System visit www.LEAPPAhead.com for more information on McGraw’s system. You and your team can also take part in the numerous online management and leadership resources that McGraw shares free of charge.    —Andrea Young