The journey of life has multiple paths; the path one chooses determines the destination. This principle holds good not only for individuals but also for enterprises. The way leaders act and lead reflect the values in action.
Ring-fencing the Market Share
Values are like lighthouses that show the direction; the sailors trust these signals and take the next steps of their journey accordingly. Do leaders always act like lighthouses?
When leaders lack consistency in their beliefs and actions, the employees get confused about the direction. Let us take an example. A leader is known to follow a consultative style; he consults with his team to finalise a plan for a new campaign but changes his practices in making decisions of similar importance. In this case, members of the team observe the changes in practice and get confused about the way they should respond.
Decisions across the ranks of the organisation either get delayed or haphazard, random and rudderless. Customers experience these misalignments while transacting with the organisation and remain open to offers from competing suppliers or brands. Ultimately, the loser is the organisation, its market share in the short term and its reputation over time.
Hence, the leaders must behave as lighthouses do. They have to remain consistent, take a balanced and holistic view of the situation while making decisions.
Building relationships with stakeholders
A recent study published in Forbes shows a global trend that customers are 4-6 times more likely to purchase, protect and champion purpose-driven companies. This study has covered more than 75 brands across 8 markets involving a sample exceeding 8000 respondents; hence, the results are quite reliable and comprehensive.
We see an increasing number of young people, millennials and Gen Z in the workforce. They are much more aware and concerned than the people in the previous generation about the impact an organisation and its products and services make on society and the environment apart from meeting the needs of the customers. We see children of family businesses either going for major revamps of the traditional methods or venturing into new business lines altogether. Directionally, this is aligned with what the study has found.
Consciousness among employees, customers, partners and suppliers about environmental impact, ethical behaviours, practices around human rights, equity, diversity, inclusion and such aspects is way higher than what we witnessed in the past. Thus, an organisation can retain and engage its stakeholders stronger and deeper if its practices reflect the values an organisation espouses.
Sometimes, the practices are not in sync with the stated values. For example, diversity is a value, but there is no specific method adopted to maintain diversity; professionalism is a value, but the promises made to customers are frequently not met and there is no clear practice of communicating with the customers proactively about the delay. In these cases, customers can see that the organisation is not aligned well and will not develop a strong relationship with the brand. Similar is the story for other stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers and partners.
Laying the foundation for a sustainable future
Protecting one’s turf and building relationships with stakeholders help an organisation in the short to medium term and lay the foundation for a long-term future. Leaders have to make sure that there is continuous tracking and monitoring of how their behaviours are permeating within the organisation and the impact it creates on the culture. There are a few organisations in the world that have outlived the founding team, gone to the hands of multiple leaders and transcended multiple generations.
In most of these cases, the organisations have changed their business line, products and services; undergone several transformations. However, it is noteworthy that they have been able to live long for the values they have upheld over time and the impact they have been creating on society and the environment.