Let Go & Lead
Simon Mainwaring Brand Strategist
Social Entrepreneur & Bestselling Author

On Creating the Solution (4:02)

MARIL MACDONALD:
What have you seen in some of the ways that leaders create ambassadors?

SIMON MAINWARING:
Leaders create ambassadors in a number of different ways. They may put the resources of the company behind an initiative that came from the employee base. We see a lot of brands out there crowd sourcing with their customers. You can also do it internally.

We are so much smarter and so much more creative and effective together than we are alone. For too often in the corporate world we sort of sequester ourselves away in these locked door rooms. We are going to innovate now. It does not usually work that way. As we are finding in the broader marketplace and in business specifically, if we collaborate and give ourselves permission to make mistakes, if we allow ourselves to be human we can be a lot smarter more quickly.

If you reach out to your employees and say listen, here is the business problem we are trying to solve, and we would love your input. They are already emotionally invested in the solution by the time you arrive at it. I would use an intranet, or a message from the CEO to the internal organization, or email to build their community of input so you get the best ideas. You get the collaboration building into the strategy in the first place. Then when you turn around and say great, we want to execute this internally; you have already got people invested in the solution. Then I would allow them to bring their creativity through these tools to bear on that strategy. It is amazing today how the best ideas can come from any department.

In the same way we have got to dissolve this sort of silo of leadership. We have got to dissolve these labels that we have within an organization. You see companies of all types reconstituting themselves now and redoing their titles. They are hiring with a different set of priorities. You need to say great, we have sort of effectively crowd sourced this strategy internally. Now we have the strategy in place, how do you think we should roll this out? Use all these tools to that end. Then suddenly you will find you not only have an employee base that is invested, you will have new ideas that you would not have come across before. Then you will have an employee base that will really champion this and put it out there in the marketplace far more effectively because they have been involved all the way through.

Not only do you need to listen to your employees in the first place in terms of developing a strategy; but once you do go to market with it, you have to listen very acutely to how your customer base responds. I think the successful companies of the future will be defined by the quality of their listening. Often a question or a challenge is telling you something that can help your business further down the track. If you imagine an echo chamber, you put sound out there into the marketplace. It bounces back to you. You can then capture that if that is good and amplify it. Or if it is negative, you need to sort of fess up for making a mistake. Take responsibility for it. Reach out and say this was wrong, we accept full responsibility. This is a way we would like to make it up to you. More often than not, you will turn a brand critic into a brand ambassador very, very quickly. If I had to characterize this process, I would say build that strategy internally with your employee base. Then reach out through different conversation channels.

Allow them all to have their own resonance to create some sort of organic movement behind what you are trying to achieve. When you get resonance from that and you get input back in, then amplify it if it is positive. If it is not, be accountable for it and do damage control as quickly as possible.