A necessary principle of leadership is an inspiring vision of success for the team and the company.
I have seen many examples of leaders expressing market position as their singular ambition for the business. To have the goal of higher sales, more share or simply be bigger is an indication of leaders going wrong.
You can’t inspire a team by targeting profit, market share, or similar. For most team members those are meaningless, abstract numbers. They make very little difference to how they live, work or think.
Leaders go wrong by not recognising the opportunity to inspire teams with the simple and exciting truth that if you focus on getting better, bigger will follow.
The dream of being better – world class - at your job, whether running the company or answering the telephone, has meaning and power for everyone. Being the best you can be should not be an abstract goal, but an inspiring way to live and work.
Being better is a state of mind
Chasing market share without improving quality is less than a zero-sum game. You sell harder, offer discounts and cut prices, to win 3% more of the market.
Your competitor matches your prices and discounts, and cuts a bit more. You lose that 3%. Everything is the same as before, except that you've both lost margin and created less loyal customers. You're in a race to the bottom.
When I invite teams to dream about what success could be and how we can build something extraordinary it's disappointing if I hear ‘reach $100 million sales’ as a response. I explain that in setting a number they are setting a limit.
If, instead, they set their goal to be better, to be world class, to be the absolute best at what we do, then extraordinary growth will come naturally.
Being better is about everything you do
It is rare, and exciting, to work with leaders who consider the idea of being ‘better’ as creating something different. Daring to review, revitalise and reconfigure every aspect of the business until it represents the best in the market.
Keeping processes simple – simply the best. Thinking through the basics to be brilliant, enjoyable for the customer.
Wherever your customer touches your brand, they should get the same experience. Not just better but consistently better. Leaders go wrong if they put all their effort into improving in one dimension, but ignore the others. There's no point in answering calls quickly if the operator doesn't give the best advice to the customers.
One is easy to measure, and the other often harder, but both are important.
Inspiring leaders do not focus on price at the cost of other elements of the brand. Price is not a number, it's an experience. If the service is not correct, customers will feel disappointed whatever they pay.
In contrast, an inspired team will provide an extraordinary experience which will generate greater commercial success.
Being better is a passion
Being better isn't just a product or a service, it's a way of life for the leader and the whole team. It is the guiding principle for how you achieve every dream you set.
All leaders measure marginal gains, cost savings, and productivity. But inspiring leaders recognise that if the team only improve when you're measuring them, then the team is missing the point.
Passion, inclusion and engagement are the keys to success, and that applies to everyone.
Getting better doesn't mean being more luxurious. It means being appropriate to what that client expects. It doesn't mean just fixing the things you think are important. It means inspiring every individual to believe that ‘better’ is doing it right when no one is looking.
Get better and bigger will follow.
About Kevin Gaskell
KEVIN GASKELL, author of Inspired Leadership: How You Can Achieve Extraordinary Results in Business, was the youngest Managing Director of Porsche, Lamborghini, and BMW, leading all three companies to record growth and performance. Gaskell is a corporate trailblazer who has enjoyed 25 years of success as a business leader; founding startups, driving turnarounds and leading major brands in a variety of sectors. The teams he has led have created over £3 billion in shareholder value.
Gaskell is a serial entrepreneur and investor. His portfolio of companies has received awards including: best private equity investment performance of the year, strategic ecommerce business of the year, world's seventh most innovative company and Insight Innovation winner Europe.