Published on: March 26, 2013by Michael Sansolo
It was one of those headlines that just grabbed my attention: "7 Habits of the Ultra-Wealthy." Since that’s a group I’m always up for joining, I started to read and the article from Inc. didn’t disappoint.
Of course, most of the tips hit areas I can’t act upon. Yes, I know the importance of equity positions and sharp business dealings, but those aren’t always things I can readily do, at least this week. A few of the points were much more relevant, such as the importance of doing a few things really well, instead of many things just okay; or the need to learn from mistakes.
But two of the points stood out as issues that impact me and, I’m betting, every business leader and manager. First, there’s the importance of hiring people smarter than you. Sounds easy (I’m pretty sure there are many people smarter than me) but it takes a strong ego and sense of purpose to follow this one.
And second, there is the need to understand the motivations of business associates.
This point really hit home this week because I just had the opportunity to speak at the wonderful Food Industry Management Program at the University of Southern California (USC). I’m always delighted to meet the bright young people in programs like that and other schools across the country. (Yes, this is the same program that Kevin Coupe spoke to a week earlier; ask either of us to walk onto a college campus and into a classroom, and we're pretty much there.) Talking to these students, I know the industry’s (and nation’s) future lies in good hands. But honestly I think they have their hands will be really full.
Tomorrow’s managers are going to face all the same challenges as today and yesterday with all new wrinkles. Managers and leaders always live in a spotlight, with subordinates gauging and grading their moves and motivations. But these future leaders, living as they are in the age of non-stop information sharing, know their actions will be under greater scrutiny.
We see it already with websites like GlassDoor. Today’s associates can share their feelings about companies and leaders as freely as students can now post about teachers and schools. Tomorrow’s leaders will need to master the world of unwanted attention, needing to learn how to listen to all that chatter to understand what really matters, what doesn’t and what requires action or change.
That’s also one of the reasons I’m so glad the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council will have an opportunity to talk about social media at our special session kicking off FMI’s Future Connect program, April 29 in Orlando. Every aspect of social media that is transforming customer communication, marketing and community promises to do the very same for associates. Our panelists at that session will be Tim Massa, vice president of talent acquisition for Kroger, and Mark Irby, vice president of marketing at Publix.
Armed with the tools of the social web tomorrow’s leaders will have incredible opportunities to communicate with their teams—from five to 500,000 if necessary—with greater speed and intimacy than ever. It’s one more reason why the social web is so important and one more reason why the Council’s study is so important. (To download a copy of the study, "Untangling the Social Web," click here.)
And that brings us back to the ultra-wealthy. If understanding associate motivations is so important, the power of the social web has just received yet another powerful endorsement. In the past, understanding motivations required mind reading. That’s no longer the case.
In today’s world, people share. They talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. When it comes to marketing and shopper communication, good listening can provide incredible insights into motivations and decisions. The same is true for associates and a manager or leader can listen and understand those motivations like never before.
Listening may not make you ultra-wealthy, but it’s certainly a better strategy than turning a deaf ear to all that information.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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