Don’t forget to meet updated expectations

Change can kill you if you fail to meet updated expectations.

One day you are money and tomorrow you are a cost center.
What made you value-added yesterday (I know the Internet, dude!) makes you a face in the crowd tomorrow. So the game in your leadership life to is see what updates are coming and align with the new new expectations.

In a world of servant leadership, remember that melting snow and rainfall always streams downhill.
What the Customer expects of her provider, her provider will expect from its leaders and talent.
Eventually and always, this is true.

If your company’s product is expected to provide an attribute (functionality, low-cost, quality, emotional lift), then that company will sooner or later begin to recruit and reward those who can provide the new new value. If you are in purchasing and work for a discounter, you are expected to be great at profit margin management (buy lowest to sell low). If you work at Starbucks, who sells an experience, you need to have a sense of street theatre and a background in marketing to move from store manager to corporate player.

Case in point: Timberland is a leader in the area of social responsibility. The market and shoe buyers worldwide reward Timberland for their efforts — especially in the City Year project where they help thousands of kids make a move up in the game of life. Many Customers feel a sense of buying something bigger than shoes when they do business with Timberland. Suppliers feel like they are helping to change the world in their work with Timberland. As a result, Timberland recruits business managers that have studied CSR in grad school or participated in significant programs in their business life. Chaging the world is part of the new new expectations at this shoe company. If you work for them in any capacity (design, sales, marketing), you’d better be adept in connecting Timberland to society needs on a day to day business. If you don’t do this, regardless of what you accomplish in other fronts, you will not meet updated expectations. Wanna bet that Nike is beginning to look for this in their leadership and new recruits? This stuff spreads with success. There’s an old phrase here that applies: Money goes where it is wanted and stays where it is well kept.

This is coming to your town, industry or company soon. Your best Customers want your company to give them meaning in the transaction. They will not buy from you anymore if you are a bad citizen (bad to work for, bad for environment, etc.) They want to buy from companies that want to improve the world. Today’s new rich are telling their fund managers to put their money in socially responsible investments; not mutual funds or hot stock or the day picks.

Creating social value is the new difference maker.

Meeting updated expectations is a good grade at work. In a world where Customers modify the tie breaker requirements mutliple times in our life, it is good to know that you can adapt to updated expectations and keep up. It means that you understand that there is a value progression always going on (a new new thing the Customer wants from you) and those that don’t keep up with it will be replaced or commoditized.

If you haven’t played in the area of corporate social responsibility, now is the time. Logon to your company intranet today and look up the community programs. Look for an employee foundation that will match your donations or allow time as a contribution. Ask your manager what social outreach programs excite her and then get involved. If you cannot find anything, step up and nominate a cause for the company to get involved with. This won’t be easy because if the cause doesn’t connect with how the company does business, it will not last for long. In future posts, I will outline how you can find, link and grow a cause that helps your company flourish.

Recommended read: Profits With Principles: Seven strategies for delivering value with values by Ira Jackson and Jane Nelson. This is a book your CEO may already be reading. It shows how a company can capitalize on a shift on consumer and market expectations by integrating values into business operations. This is a wonderful alignment exercise.

Keywords: Brand marketing, Sales, Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Resources, Employership Brand, Community Outreach