During that time I have learnt many things – not least about leading teams, and getting the most out of my people. I have learnt most things by working for bad managers – and not wanting to repeat their behaviour – rather than from inspirational leaders.
There are two specific analogies that seem to have had a big impact on the junior marketers I have led. The first is for everyone to have a mental ‘trophy cabinet’. A bit like your granny might have in the corner of her sitting room, I encourage my people to create a virtual store in their minds into which they add something they are proud of each day, week or month.
Why? Well firstly, when your boss asks what you have been doing, you can immediately ‘look’ in the trophy cabinet and reel off a list of great initiatives, but, just as importantly, when things are going badly, you can ‘look’ in the cabinet and remotivate yourself and remember you are just as good as you thought you were. The second is the concept of ‘sharing a cup of sugar’. When you move into a new house, the first thing you need at such a stressful time is a cup of tea but the last thing you often find after unpacking is the sugar basin. So when a neighbour pops over and shares a cup of sugar, it demonstrates neighbourly support, and that is the principle that I urge my teams to adopt – to help their colleagues out in a time of need.
And these approaches are just as applicable to our relationships with customers. Sometimes we do need to remind our customers of the good times while we have served them – just in case they get tempted to ditch us for a cheaper brand; and, as I said the other week, we also need to be prepared to support a customer through the good as well as the bad times – a customer is not just for Christmas. Brands that stick to stringent terms and conditions, with little empowerment for those on the frontline to use their common sense, will rarely develop long-term customer loyalty.