How to Avoid Irrelevance, Guaranteed!
You may be the world’s best pickle packer. But, if the world doesn’t value perfectly packed pickles, you are tragically irrelevant.
Customers determine value, not you. Spend as much time understanding the people you serve as you spend understanding yourself.
Leaders who don’t understand others become irrelevant.
10 things to understand about others:
- Pain points.
Good but off target:
You might be an innovator, developer, organizer, maximzer, or activator. But, irrelevance looms large if you can’t apply your strengths – in relevant ways – to the people you serve.
Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, was mentored by Drucker.
Lafley listened to his mentor. The first core strength of P&G is a deep understanding of the customer. (Game-Changer, by Lafley and Charan)
Purpose and value:
Martin Luther King Jr. met fundamental human needs. In the process he was a political reformer. Create customers/followers by meeting needs and enriching lives.
The center of your business, leadership, or management is the people you serve, not you.
Without a customer you’re irrelevant.
The only way to create, serve, and retain customers is to deeply understand them.
The customer-centric leader:
Influence is a function of relevant service.
- Speak to their aspirations not yours.
- Bring valuable-value to them.
- Broaden your influence by meeting universal needs and aspirations.
- Listen to your heart. But, listen to them as well.
There is a sense in which leaders follow their followers.
You are always relevant when you understand people and meet needs.
“Customers are the boss.” A.G. Lafley
Powerful resource: “It’s Not About You,” by Bob Burg and John David Man.
See Facebook responses to, “We have the most impact in life when we _______.”
How can leaders understand and serve others?
Listen to the customer attentively, understand their wants, offer expertise if needed, guide them if they have no clue, assure them you can handle their project, provide guidelines to the customer and execute the plan in a timely manner, most important is a cost effective solution that meets their needs without a lot of unwanted expenses and poppy cock. Tell them the truth!
Thanks Tim. Spoken like a man of experience.
Dan I think this the best work I have seen you do. Great work!
Burg also said 80% of folks are not goalsetters, 5% wonder why you did not follow through last year and 75% are problem solvers. Smart dude!
Just so much to respond to cause you really the oxytocin gushing. We know I am terribly longwinded, will help with content for my information products! Lol so I will do my best to be brief!
Leaders can understand and serve others by starting with themselves.
Get the oxy gushing in me and it attracts the folks who believe what I believe. Those are the ones I can be effective with.
Others are the ones I need to be as repulsive as humanly possible as a gift to them. I will be saving their time and of course mine.
Based on their belief system they can’t hear me, they need to find a Leader who believes what they believe.
Circles need to hang with circles, trapezoids need to hang with trapezoids. Best for all concerned.
Thanks Scott. The thing that keeps buzzing around in my head is the tension between focusing on ourselves and focusing on others. It takes real skill to keep one eye on one thing and the other eye on another.
This resonates with me. I believe (without much experience), that generally businesses (or leaders) can only truly be successful if their owners believe in and love the thing that the business does. However, just because the owner truly believes or loves something, it doesn’t mean that a significant customer base will feel the same. The trick therefore (it seems) is to get the balance (blend?) right between doing what you love and providing a service or product that other people actually want or need or otherwise in some way creates value (a moving target I suppose). This is something I haven’t quite mastered yet, and I suspect many other really passionate (potential) entrepreneurs are the same.
Simple fix there Dan. When we give we receive. Actually the most selfish thing we can do is, do for others. Comes back tenfold. If one really gets this, I mean REALLY gets it, where is the tension? The tension is in the not getting, that’s where. Having a clearly defined purpose helps me.
It is, “To inspire and instruct others how to improve their lives and achieve their goals”. Some tension, cause I got off course. Just gently get back on the beam.
Zig Ziglar said it many years ago, funny thing about truisms, they transcend time. Help enough of others get what they want, I get what I want. Not be a selfish dummy and try to get what I need cause there ain’t enough.
Up to you whether you simply want to use this Dan or find some kind of a way to flip it so you feel it has no value to you.
This, I agree with!! Having suffered this, I agree 100%
Thanks Rajiv. I think we all live in peril to becoming irrelevant. The world is changing. Best wishes.
In building your own business, how do we truly determine who to serve? Somehow ‘the people who will want or need my product’ seems like it makes an assumptive leap.
Thanks TheTrainer. Choosing who to serve is not part of this post. However, I must confess, that the issue kept bouncing around in my head. One of the things I enjoy about writing is leaving things out.
I’m open to suggestions on choosing who to serve.
Shared values are an obvious component.
Dan, I think you must identify your “product” and who receives/needs it before you can determine who you should be serving…as a leader it should first and foremost be your team. As a manager in charge of a group of people, you have to assume your “product” is your advocacy, mentorship, support and encouragement and sometimes discipline of that team. I don’t think that assumption would be far off…usually our first “customers” are our direct reports.
Listen to Brendon Bruchard. He went from bankrupt to 4.6 million dollars in sales in 2 years. Will sell most likely over 20 million dollars worth of his stuff this year.
Here is the deal, flowers have the nectar…..the Bees COME TO THEM.
The right question, or another question is make a great product, get it out there on the intraweb and the folks it can help will be attracted to it. I can help people retain 68% of what they want to learn.
They supply the info, I supply the technique. Starting with a 30 day do it at home goal setting course. Writing it now. Then I will campaign for 12 folks to get it for FREE! Then get testimonials and referrals from them and from then on, people pay.
Make something GREAT…..get it out there….the ones who it will help will be looking AND waiting on it.
We each have a unique gift to give! There are 3 billion new people coming onto the internet. Share what you have to give to the world. Build it, your product or service, CAMPAIGN it, they will come.
Not everyone, goodness it is a numbers game but with the numbers on the internet the numbers are IN OUR FAVOR!!!!!!!!
Hey not my FORMULA, I am just sharing it. Brendons…Check out FREE videos by him on Youtube. Experts Academy
Or just say, I can’t do anything like that and stick your head in the sand.
If you think you can, you are RIGHT! if you think you can’t, you are RIGHT! If you WANT find someone who HAS and follow their path! That is why the took the arrows to blaze the trail.
Great list of 10, Dan. Incidentally, it’s also how the best salespeople sell.
A leaders job is in fact to rally thier people around a vision that meets the demands of thier business as well as thier customers. Many reach these positions though with tunnel vision, focusing only on thier outside customers, forgetting that the first and most important customers for the leader to concider are those who work for them. Many leaders however believe they can issolate themselves the higher they go from ‘human engineering’, communicating and conecting with thier people. The higher you go, the greater your respondsibility is to put people first.
I agree with you Sergeant Steve!! I wish more people understood the idea that, “the higher you go, the greater your responsibility is to put people first.” A true leader understands the responsibility of being an advocate for their people as well as the enterprise-wide missions, visions and goals. Great post!
You said it all this time, Dan: Serve the GOAL of the organization and we automatically serve the organization as a natural byproduct.
Serve students and the school is served. Serve persons who come to JC Penney’s and JC Penney’s is served. Serve patients and the healthcare facility is served. Serve leaders, directors and managers–and not only is Leadership Freak served, but persons who influence others are served.
Yet. the opposite is not always true: Serve merely the organization and its customers are not necessarily served.
“Doctor, Doctor, keep bring’n the news”…
Well said RM, what about the truth though? I always love what you write, big fan, big fan.The truth is it sounds wonderful, heck I loved it! The problem is the application. From your heart to the folks minds!!!!! Truth is over and over Deloitte latest poll, 80% of employees feel disengaged at work. We as Leaders are falling short getting the great inspirational words into the minds of the folks. True or not? If true what are we going to do about it? Man oh man the opportunity is HUGE!
There is another great book on this topic…”The Three Signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni. He talks about how anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurability directly affect how people feel about their jobs – even if they are doing something they are passionate about. Irrelevance is a huge part of the equation to job/work satisfaction. I highly recommend checking it out; in the mission of servitude in leadership, this book is a cornerstone. AND…this post was spot on…your timing is impecable as usual Dan! I’m going through this in my new position and finally understanding what was the underlying frustration (anonymity), I’m now able to identify that feeling when it comes up, acknowledge and move on. I think defining the frustration is almost half the battle sometimes! Great post Dan! Have a great weekend!!
Thanks for the kind words Jody regarding my earlier post. Ironic you should mention the book by author Patrick Lencioni. Just recently I was involved in a conversation relating to job satisfaction. Survey after survey shows that people whofeel they have to much to do, and those who feel they have enough to do enjoy thier work. However, those who feel they DO NOT have enough to do find little to no satifaction in thier jobs. People want to be involved. People ‘need’ to be involved. Once your people become disengaged in thier work, your organization becomes diusengaged from it’s customers. At the core of every human being is a desire to feel needed. “Failure to recognise this truth, is a leaders recipe for FAILURE”…
Have a great Friday Jody
Definitely agree that “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job” is an excellent book that I would encourage every one to read. A well paced read and very believable.
I would add that the “attitude” of leadership will be reflected in the gratitude of the employees.
Thanks Redge…just a note on the last sentence in your comment. I just can’t resist cool sentences and that’s one. Cheers
Early to bed, early to rise…”you get the picture Dan”. I am off Tues and Weds of this coming week. Check your schedule if you’d like. I fit suits we can get together regarding the ‘afternoon workshop’. BTW when do you sleep??? LOL
“Thanks” The attitude of of leadership will be reflected in the gratitude of thier employees. BRILLIANT
SGT, you get up as early as I do!! 🙂
Insightfull stuff….loved the irrelevance of having no customers…plenty of startups that I know should read this. Thanks for posting.
Thanks architectsofex. Funny how simple little things just make sense.
I tell my daughters, your customer is your boss. Your first job is to make them look good and keep them happy.
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.
Great post Dan! In the non profit sector we can just replace the word customer with donor!
Customers are internal as well as external to the organization. While I have separation between myself and the product customer, I need to serve my co-workers who do have interaction.