If customers really want a company to succeed, it will succeed – Elon Musk

This idea, articulated by Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, Tesla, Space-X and SolarCity in a BBC interview, may seem like common sense, but it is disappointingly rare in business.

I would go further unless employees really want a company to succeed it will fail.

It may be true that in the very early stages of a business shareholder support is critical, but by the time a business has customers and employees, the interests of the shareholder are best served by the leadership engaging, inspiring, empowering, incentivising, motivating and rewarding employees to deliver value to customers.

Within all of this the key emotion is loyalty.  Why should anyone want a business to succeed, beyond it satisfying their own immediate requirements?

Fear is used, either obliquely (you might loose your job) or directly (you will loose your job) and certainly can create a form of loyalty – but not the kind that actually wants success for the organisation.  Fear seldom enables creativity or innovation on behalf of the organisation.  Fear is a motivator, but mostly to avoid the cause of the fear, it is not a long term or sustainable path for organisations.

Love, the opposite of fear, is far, far more potent in the generation of loyalty, but takes a good deal more skill to spread across an organisation and it’s stakeholders than fear.

The key ingredients of Love in an organisational context are “Cause” and “Code”.

In the case of Tesla the cause is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport” – there are many people current and potential: customers, shareholders, suppliers and employees who strongly support this cause.

The cause alone is not enough however, it is differentiating, but not unique.  Nissan, BMW, GM, Renault and potentially Apple and Google are all contributors to Tesla’s cause.

What makes Tesla unique is their Code.  Their code says that they are so committed to the Cause that they want to help and encourage other electric car makers and have proven their commitment to this by freely, open sourcing their designs.  The Tesla code will also define other areas of how they work, how employees and customers are treated and the culture of the organisation.

Where organisations succeed in creating powerful loyalty, employees and customers will contribute to it’s success through endorsement and be prepared to stand up for it’s survival, in hard times.  Contrast this with organisations who fail to create loyalty, where customers and employees leave as soon as a better option appears or when times are tough.

Cause and Code do not happen by accident, they are a product of leadership and it is leadership that propagates them through and beyond an organisation.  In the process they create and curate the culture that delivers the results.  Done well the results can include loyalty and sustained success.

In our society there is nothing inevitable about this path.  Leadership education is scant and many of the role models we see are poor or negative.  I meet so many individuals with fantastic, positive leadership potential, who do not see themselves as leaders at all because all of the leadership role models they have experience of have been so negative.  It takes great skill and persistence to overcome the negatives and the challenges, which is why the support of those who have studied and understand great leadership is so important.

At Holos we have been studying leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years.  We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

To help make using Holos easy we offer inspiring standalone sessions on Megatrends, Leadership, Culture and Change that give organisations a chance to see us in action and helps to get a wider process started.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

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Neil Crofts

+447803 774239




About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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