WINNING AND LOSING
When the new management team took over the business, I asked the ones running, “So how are things going?” One of the leaders said, “Things are going very well. We have a lot of new clients, the pipeline is full, but we are so afraid that the past team who left the company and brought with them our database may take over our accounts and grab the business away from us.” I thought to myself, “Aha! Time for me to give a mini-seminar.”
I said, “Listen, guys, the consultancy, the training and all the speaking business is an industry that is unique. It is different from selling stuff. We are providing services. If our former clients gave the business to them, then it is now their responsibility to perform well, but the pressure will be intense. They now have to prove that their clients were right in giving them the business. Our company, on the other hand, has already proven and established credibility and reliability of the services rendered. Just maintain relationship. You do not have to sell every time you meet them. But reassure them that we will be there for them the moment they need help and who knows? They might need it more today, especially if their new vendors could not deliver and meet their expectations.” Its’ been a couple of years now, and this is what is happening. The clients are back, and we are more intense and dedicated to serving them better.
I have always operated on this business principle. That you do not have to deceive, malign, slander, or use under-handed tactics to get the business. But if you provide excellent, reliable, and quality service, then you can achieve customer loyalty. Now sometimes loyal customers get enticed and tempted to shift allegiance once in a while, but the game is never over. Stay consistent and continue to perform with excellence. They will come back.
I did not know how to name this business principle until I got the opportunity to interview Simon Sinek a few months ago at the WOBI Conference in New York. He calls this “The Infinite Game Mindset” and is also the title of his latest book. I recommend this as required reading for every business executive or owner who would like to attain success sustainability.
In his book, Simon says: “We tend to see the world in terms of successes and failures, winners and losers. This default win-lose mode can sometimes work for the short term as a strategy for how companies and organizations operate. However, it can have grave consequences over the longer term.
The results of this default mindset are all too familiar. Rounds of mass layoffs to meet arbitrary projections. Cutthroat work environments subservience to the shareholder over the needs of the employees and customers. Dishonest and unethical business practices. Rewarding high performing toxic team members while turning a blind eye to the damage they’re doing to the rest of the team. Rewarding leaders who seem to care a lot more about themselves than those in their charge. All these things contribute to a decline of loyalty and engagement, an increase of insecurity, and anxiety that too many of us feel these days.
This finite-game of thinking considers only the short term perspective of making a quick win as if the game is over. But business is not “game over” after the end of the calendar or fiscal year, the company and all its business activities continue.
And then Simon says: “In the infinite game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success that has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding. It is not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their tenure. While a finite-minded leader works to get something from their employees, customers, and shareholders to meet arbitrary metrics; the infinite-minded leader works to ensure that all their employees, customers, and shareholders remain inspired to continue contributing with their effort, their wallets, and their investments. Players with an infinite mindset, want to leave their organizations in better shape than they found them.
And I told myself, “Whoa!” This is what it’s all about. All those deception, cheating, unethical practices, snatching clientele away, bad-mouthing, and slandering stems from a mind that says, “Win at all Cost!” “The game belongs to the swift and the strong and the end justifies the means… or in many cases the mean-ness!” And what happens is that this approach is never sustainable.
Simon says: “There is no winning in the infinite game of business – just ahead or behind.” We need to be competitive but not to the point of selling our souls and compromising our values and truth. The idea is not to “kill” the competition as if business is video game. The idea is to outlast them. Now I may be wrong but if there is one thing I have learned is that the good guys always outlast those who are not.
(Francis Kong’s Level Up Leadership 2020 Edition workshop-seminar runs on March 11-12 at Makati Diamond Residences. For further inquiries or reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)