What is Leadership: Connectors not Directors

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Leadership in practice

Leadership in practice

What is Leadership?

I was trying to figure out the essence of management ever since I have watched the lecture of Kevin Roberts – CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi for the first time. During this lecture one sentence is told, “We live in a world where we have all become connectors not directors”.

This is another film which changed my way of thinking about what is leadership.

I have just watched the third speech. It motivated me to write this article.


The picture below illustrates a well-known Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

what is leadership - Maslow hierarchy of needs
But the fact that many people know it doesn’t mean that many use it. If that knowledge was common, organizations would know that:

  • Increasing salary motivates only temporarily;
  • When basic needs are fulfilled self-development becomes more important than money;

“Sharing with others” should also become a part of “Transcendence”. Great things do not come out of desire of profit – this is what leadership is about. Wikipedia is the best example – it is constantly created, sustained and supported by a group of enthusiasts. A real visions, dreams and aims of the brand are features that distinguish it from its competition. The point is that the market saturation on most markets is so large it becomes virtually impossible for any company to be unique with “what” it sells. Everyone is doing the same things (“what”), some differ with methods (“how”), but one thing that really matters is “why”.

In my opinion each of these questions corresponds respectively to levels in Maslow’s hierarchy.

  • „What” – red, orange and yellow. These are basic biological and physiological needs, the need of safety and membership, to need to adapt to a community in which we live. “I have a need to be clean” – there are many manufacturers of cleaning products who are willing to fulfill this need.
  • „How” – green, pink and purple correspond to the company reputation, e.g. an environmentally friendly product. “I have a need to be clean but I don’t want to be perceived as a person who destroys natural environment” – much less companies can fulfill this need, only those who manufacture environmentally friendly soap.
  • „Why” – dark- and light-blue correspond to the company’s vision, its aim and purpose. They answer to the question how the company wants to make the world a better place. “I have a need to be clean, I don’t want to be a person who destroys natural environment, I believe that all people are equal, and all good and bad actions returns to you twofold” – this need can be fulfilled only by few brands, such as Body Shop, certified Fair Trade. Of course, some people may say, “What’s the difference if a brand cares about human rights or not? I just want to buy soap.” Essentially the difference is small but if you choose between two brands: “Just Soap” and “Soap That Thinks Just Like Me”, I would choose the second one.

Kevin Roberts introduced the term “Lovemark” instead of “Trademak”. The latter refers to a brand that touches emotions instead of the one just selling, trading. But from the point of the brand manager who creates brand communication it’s very hard to speak about “mission”, about emotional value. The reasons are:

  • The results are not immediate. Shouting: “Hey, caring about world peace here! Buy me” just once is not enough. You have to really care. People will not trust you from the start, it takes time;
  • In case of failure it will look stupid to go to your boss and say: “I decided on the slogan – ‘We want to fight world obesity’ so I deliberately hid from our clients that we actually sell fat-free fries”;
  • Working outside the box is just like parachute jumping. There are only two options: the parachute will open and we’ll live, or end up a bloody mess – there’s nothing in between. With brands it’s pretty much the same: we’ll create a brand that becomes an icon, will be loved by the crowds and people won’t be able to imagine their lives without it, or it will disappear in a depths of oblivion.

Many companies choose the “same as everyone else” road. They say that, “I’m not as big as Apple now, so I can’t afford to change the world. I have to sell my product.” The problem is that there will be only one winner army on the battlefield left in the end. There is no need for a hundred of clones to operate on one market. Just one — the best one – is enough. The rest will hit the skids, straight into the jaws of the leader, then a loud “snap!”, chomp and competition ends up eaten.
Not doing anything will certainly make us loose. So how do we win?

We risk it.

About Pawel Kaczynski

About me here: http://pawelkaczynski.com/pawel-kaczynski-about-me/

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