We tell people what we want them to do. Sometimes we even get specific and tell them how we want them to do it.
It’s good to give clear directions. It eliminates any vagueness in what we’re asking of those we are engaging. But it’s not enough. What usually happens is that we see people comply. Employees will do as instructed (and very seldom anything more) and customers will occasionally buy, but rarely display the kind of loyalty and advocacy that we really want from them.
I had one company I worked with beautifully lay out a definition of an exemplary employee. They even developed 5 pillars — the qualities every team member should strive to embody. The company was clear and consistent in communicating the pillars. But it just couldn’t get the team to be passionate about those pillars. Why? Because the team members didn’t understand why it mattered. They knew their duties. They knew what was required for them to do their job (and stay employed). But beyond that, it was a bit vague. They knew those pillars were good things. They just didn’t know why they should get fired up about them. They didn’t understand why they should care.
Finding the thrust
Too often organizations toil over the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, assuming that the ‘why’ is undeniably obvious. As I can tell you from experience, it rarely ever is to those you are hoping to inspire.
We need to step back and make sure we clearly explain why we are doing what we are doing. Explain the good that we hope to achieve. And not for the company, but for those we are serving. If it’s an internal message, it’s about the good that we are doing for the customers or our fellow team members. If it’s an external message, it’s about the good we are doing for those we are serving, or the community, or maybe even the world (this is the definition of a Big Audacious Meaning).
Our ‘why’ is the difference we are making in a life (internally or externally). This is the ultimate reason to care. This is what gives your brand thrust.
Thrust is defined as ‘meaning’ (“What’s the thrust of the story?”) it is also the boost or momentum that you get as a result of demonstrating your meaning. In other words:
Thrust is meaning that leads to momentum.
When we give people this, we give them a reason to become passionate. Team members start going above and beyond. And customers start recommending us to others.
People will care. They will take action. They just need to feel the thrust.
Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.
Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on September 5, 2019.