Your ability to inspire your staff may depend on your skill at defining your team or company’s unique purpose. Everyone wants to make more money and deliver better quality and service. Do you know what purpose separates you from the rest of the pack? Employees will quickly sense when a leader is pretending to have a plan or is settling for the same goals everyone else makes. It’s your commitment to see beyond the routine and understand what’s truly needed that will impress and motivate your people.
Let me explain what I mean. The people who make Porsche automobiles have a little secret. They don’t measure up to their competition—except, apparently, where it counts the most.
A few years ago, Car and Driver magazine compared a new Corvette with the Porsche 911. The Corvette won in nearly every category. It was faster from zero to sixty, faster over a quarter mile, and faster to stop. It performed better on the skid pad. And the Corvette cost about 38 percent less than the Porsche 911. Despite these obvious differences, however, more than thirty thousand supposedly sane North Americans purchased a Porsche instead of a Corvette that year, spending $1.8 billion. Porsche is a popular, well-marketed brand—but not that popular. So what gives?
According to the business experts who wrote The Big Moo, Porsche excels at a hard-to-measure, rarely discussed attribute called “path accuracy.” The car goes exactly where the driver wants it to go, giving him a sense of complete control. Drivers like that feeling—a lot. Porsche succeeds because it delivers on a unique goal, giving its customers the driving experience they want even though most of them would never be able to explain it. Porsche’s leadership has a well-defined purpose that brings satisfaction to its loyal fans and profits to its investors.2 ING Direct recently brought a similar approach to the banking industry. Over a three-year period, ING did not offer checking, had no ATMs, and didn’t handle cash. They required no account minimums and didn’t charge fees. They didn’t have branches or tellers. They had no credit card or telemarketing programs.
What, you ask, did ING offer? Two things. Actual human beings, not computers, who talk to you when you contact them. And higher interest rates.
The public responded to this strategy. During those three years, ING signed up more than a million new customers. An astonishing 40 percent of ING’s new business came from referrals. That allowed them to spend less on advertising and attract customers for a third of what a traditional bank spends.4 ING’s directors had found their unique purpose. They cut out services and programs that many customers didn’t care about and focused on what they wanted to do well. They invented a bank where giving people less worked better.
What does all this mean for you? Simply that if you are a manager who is willing to think outside the box to define your team’s unique purpose, your staff will notice and buy in enthusiastically. They’ll understand that you are an innovative leader with a plan for the present and the future. They will be inspired.
Adapted excerpt from: “Inspired People Produce Results” – Jeremy Kingsley, McGraw-Hill (2013)