We attended a conference titled “Reinventing the Market Place: Focusing on the Consumer’ which was organized by the AIMA. Great thoughts as usual and put across as passionately as possible! I have been thinking about this myself, quite a bit since my brief break from Pfizer last year. That experience was a unique one in that it gave me an opportunity to step out of the organization, get into a better one and then realize how much better Pfizer could have done stuff that is done routinely elsewhere and is ignored at Pfizer. Now that I am back, I sincerely hope I can apply that learning to deliver better at Pfizer.
A lot of what was discussed here has to do with what I studied at B-school. When I studied marketing, my professors drilled one idea into me (or at least it is the only one that I can recall now, ten years later): a brand is a promise kept. Over the last few months I reflected upon those carefully selected words: promise, kept. Two key words that let us know there is something we can count on . . . an assurance, a guarantee of sorts. In our uncertain world, more than anything, I believe, human beings are drawn to that which is certain, predictable, or familiar. All this has a lot to do with how leaders build trust. Like you so often say, as organization leaders, we are our organization…WE are Pfizer! Externally and internally, we are always on display. Our actions and words carry increased importance as we move up the organization. Others watch us and quickly form opinions about who we are based on their sometimes very limited interactions with us. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What is our promise kept?” It has been said that is it not what happens, but how we decide to deal with what happens that reveals our true character. This, I believe, is never truer than in our roles as leaders.What I have learned is that leadership (i.e. the application of all we are busy reading about or taking courses in) can only be lived in this moment.
Reading more articles, books, and taking more leadership courses will not provide significant value if we cannot apply all that we already know now – in our next interaction – our next brand impression. What you do today matters. How you handle things now is your leadership brand. You are your organization to the marketplace. Does every interaction communicate its promise?If I am to build brand trust in my own organization, I must be a living example of all that it stands for and seek to live our promise kept at every touch point – with every client, potential client, colleague, competitor, citizen. Am I always able to do so? Of course not. In fact, I am quite certain I fall frequently short. However, in striving to deliver on our promise kept, I know I am delivering the kind of interaction our clients and my colleagues deserve more frequently than I am not. A brand is a promise kept – an assurance of something valuable, something we hold dear, respect, appreciate or enjoy. The strength of that brand depends upon how consistently the promise is evident at every touch point.
“It is perfectly human for managers to want to blame ‘up there’ for how hard it is ‘down here.’ But real leaders can’t do that. And they don’t.” – Jack and Suzy Welch