America as a culture has a very misconstrued outlook on leadership. We don’t value our elders, we let them work at Walmart or we put them into group homes. We place too much importance on things that don’t matter: expensive cars, houses, planes, jewelry, etc. We place ultimate importance on our job title and attach our self-worth to that title and what we do. And, in general, we don’t know how to lead, how to follow, or when to lead, and when to follow.
Every great leader was once a great follower. Inside every great follower, is a great leader.
By this point, You might be asking, “What the heck does this have to do with marketing and MY business?” Trust me. Keep reading. I’ll get there.
See, you personally may not have the knowledge of how to run a fortune 500 company, but there is something that you are passionate about and know a lot about, you are a leader in that. If you and some friends are going out to dinner to a new Mexican restaurant, and you know exactly where it is because you drove past it last week; You are a leader. What most people need to realize is that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes.
We are all leaders in some aspect of our lives, whether it is in our relationships, our careers, or even our hobbies. One of my favorite quotes, and I don’t know who said it, is “It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it.” You could be a burger flipper, but if you are the world’s best burger flipper, you will be more successful than most careers that we idolize as a society.
You may be the friend that everyone comes to for relationship or career advice. They come to you because you have a level head and are able to create amazing solutions to the challenges your friends are facing. You are a leader.
You may be the person at work that people come to because of your experience in working with your company. Regardless of whether your name badge says “Manager” or “Director”, you are a leader.
Leadership has nothing to do with your level of education, the way you talk, the way you look, or how much money you have or don’t have. Leadership essentially comes down to a mindset and a habit.
You might be asking, “Well, Michael, what is that mindset and what is the habit?”
The mindset is looking for opportunities to leave the world a better place each and every day, and the habit is… simply making a habit out of doing so.
Leaders simply do one thing: They provide ridiculous amounts of value to the world. Leaders live with the intention to leave every person they come in contact with, better for having interacted with them. Whether it’s quality business advice or just a simple smile.
Leadership doesn’t lie in what others can’t do; Leadership lies in what others simply won’t do. Imagine if at the end of every day, you could look back and honestly feel that you made an impact in someone else’s day. It doesn’t have to be anything epic, and it shouldn’t.
It’s those very same qualities that will make you a successful business owner.
Too often I walk into a business where the employees look at me as a customer rather than an actual person. Do you know what I mean? Like at a restaurant where you walk up and order your food, or at the check-out line in a grocery store, have you ever felt valued as a customer to the point where you enjoyed that experience so much that you couldn’t wait to go back and spend more of your money? If you have, you are probably like me and can count those experiences on one hand.
It doesn’t matter whether you (or your employees) are a cashier, a manager, or an owner, you must provide value to your customers through ways that your competitors aren’t even thinking about. Everyone is competing on price point and value propositions, but businesses, and the people running them, forget about valuing their customer.
Would you spend money on a friend that didn’t value you? Would you refer your other friends to be friends with someone who didn’t value you? Would you be anxious to go back to hang out with a friend that didn’t seem to value you? No. You wouldn’t. And neither will your customers.
As we launch into this digital world that is being constructed around us as you are reading these words, the future of marketing is going to be more like the 1920’s. The future of marketing is great customer service, understanding your current and future customer’s needs, and providing incredible and relevant value to those people with no strings attached or expectations of a purchase. We are going back to the time where the customer is valued and businesses earn people’s loyalty.
The best thing you could do for your business today is to instill a sense of leadership in yourself. Then take it one step further and instill that sense of leadership in your team. That will translate into a better experience for your customer, happier employees, a leadership driven company, and ultimately a substantially leaner bottom line.