We ALWAYS know when others should step down from positions of leadership, yet when the person in question is us, there are often many conflicting thoughts.
From a personal perspective, I’ve recently had to have the same conversation with myself. This was after a friend pointed out that although I may have been feeling emotionally disengaged; I have to consider the possible damage this would cause to my legacy.
I suddenly felt the need to spend a fair amount of time considering why I am doing the things I do, what values and beliefs they symbolized and whether those beliefs I hold are still true.
In relaying my woes to my coach, she said I should consider the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) factor. In short, I need to figure out whether where I am still served me and how I can add value to myself as well as be of service to others.
Rob Asghar, in his Forbes article on knowing when to go, states that “there is a universal tendency among leaders to hurt their own cause by clinging to power.” He goes on to say – “George Washington’s greatest contribution to a young American nation wasn’t his strategic ability or his wartime fortitude but it was his insistence that, in order for America to be a viable democracy, it needed leaders who were willing to step aside.”
This sounds so poetic, yet somehow balancing this against the fear of a tarnished legacy I can see how it happens that great leaders stay long enough to see themselves become the “bad guys”.
It’s in acting from a negative place that this happens. Negativity is insidious, it permeates all the good we have done and before we know every single thing that we once did right and well becomes tainted.
I want to be remembered for the good things I’ve done. I want them to remember me for the passion and commitment I showed in the direction of the things that mattered to me. I care about people, I am obsessed with being an agent of change and I want to have made an eternal impression in the lives of others. I want to inspire them to make more of themselves than they ever thought was possible.
It was Nelson Mandela who said that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
That is my big why, my purpose, my dharma.
Now equipped with this awareness, I am able to conduct a self-analysis on a deeper, more meaningful level the outcome of which will enable me to remain relevant, create a new environment and in going about these things I would be growing both my knowledge base and my networks.
A few weeks ago I was honoured to get an invite to The Creative Council’s (TCC) breakfast event which was a review of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. From the review, my key take out was that the brands of the future are brands which are able to touch the hearts and minds of their consumers.
In short, they are brands with purpose. I recall one of the videos played at the breakfast with Jared Leto saying F$@k your advertising. To paraphrase, he says he wants to know that there is an organisation on the other side of the ad that cares about him and his reality. That was powerful for me.
In a world where consumers have access to information at their fingertips, they are no longer looking for you as organisation ABC to tell them which product or service is better purely from a jingle and a sexy girl or guy but they are looking at whether or not your company connects with them and where they come from.
TCC took us through a few advertisements which are doing just that, the Pantene ad campaign #Not Sorry and the Proctor and Gamble campaign called #Like A Girl. Organisations now have to become people experts and in a genuine way, they need to relate to the consumers of their products without treating them like idiots. This brings to mind the brightly coloured, patronising adverts used to relate to the black consumer group in South Africa.
The big advertising and marketing companies who presented at Cannes believe that through the use of neuroscience in advertising it enables an organisation, through advertising to change the perceptions of consumers because it’s when you change a perception that you can effectively control one’s reality.
This can be very scary for the consumer as essentially one would feel vulnerable and manipulated. In the same breath I’d say that people can only be fooled a limited number of times until they are onto you, thereafter they write you off…for good.
This brings me to the ordinary organisation, the one that’s too concerned with their brand key, and the demographics of the people who make the buying decision about their brand. This applies to that organisation too. They need to connect with their internal and external stakeholders in a similar way.
The focus is back on mission statements. In the book Built to Last the authors identify this as one of the separators of great long lasting businesses from the not so great. I always remember the TED Talk by Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action. This holds true in this instance as well. If I think of myself as a consumer of a vast number of products actively and passively, I am no longer buying into organisations that I don’t connect with. I want an organisation that speaks to my mind and heart at the same time.
I believe that consumer expectations are what’s dictating the future structure and policies of organisations, so as an organisation you can no longer afford to ignore them.
For more about the videos I mentioned please see:
Proctor & Gamble Like a girl campaign:
Pantene Not sorry campaign:
Simon Sinek How great leaders inspire action: