A long time ago in a land far away, a man — we’ll call him Nimrod — founded a company. He knew everything about founding a company. But he knew nothing about promoting one. He knew nothing about assimilating people and letting them embody a brand in their own ways. And he didn’t know the difference between managing and leading.
While Nimrod didn’t know what he didn’t know, he hired people who did know. But he didn’t let them do their jobs. When his marketing team presented the logo for his new brand, Nimrod interrupted:
“Why is the logo green and yellow?”
“We’re in a volatile industry, “they explained. “Green is peaceful, bringing calm to a chaotic environment. Yellow is light and warm, soothing a churning marketplace.”
“I like red and black,” Nimrod retorted.
“The fire of red will incite the market’s agitation,” they suggested. “And black implies intractability. Those aren’t messages for apprehensive people.”
“I don’t care,” declared Nimrod. “It’s my baby.”
The brand launch was delayed for months while Nimrod altered everything arbitrarily. His preferences took precedence over experience and empiricism. He became his own target audience. Everything created by the marketing team to effectively position the brand, to differentiate it from its competition, and to persuasively communicate with prospects was questioned, second-guessed, copy-directed, art-directed, re-designed, and amended to Nimrod’s whims.
Nimrod was happy … for a while. Then he met a Ignatz, a competitor, in a bar. While Ignatz’s brand recognition was through the roof, Nimrod’s was on the floor. While Ignatz’s sales cycles got shorter, Nimrod’s were arduously long. While Ignatz’s market share grew, Nimrod’s flat-lined. And while Ignatz’s revenues grew, allowing him to re-invest in marketing, Nimrod treated marketing as an expense and cut it. Nimrod was as curious as he was envious:
“How have you positioned and grown your company so effectively?” asked Nimrod.
“I have a marketing team,” Ignatz replied.
“So do I,” said Nimrod, baffled and indignant. “I had to tell them what to do because they were doing it wrong.”
“How did you know it was wrong?” asked Ignatz.
“Because I didn’t like it,” said Nimrod, rolling his eyes. “I had to re-design and re-write everything they created.”
“If you hired them to do that work, why would you re-do it?”
“Because I didn’t like it,” Nimrod shot back. “It’s my company and I want everything the way I like it.”
“So, they challenged your preconceptions?” Ignatz wondered.
“Yeah!” I want it the way I want it. And they keep trying to do things differently.”
“It’s a good thing you’ve been in their business longer than they have,” Ignatz said wryly.
“But I’m not in …” Nimrod stopped mid-sentence.
“Let me buy you a shot to go with that beer,” offered Ignatz. “At this point, it couldn’t hurt.”
Ignatz sipped his beer, humbly reveling in the success he’d created. Nimrod pounded shots, angrily cursing his luck.
If you trust no one to do anything, you’ll never be a leader.
Image by werner22brigitte, courtesy of pixabay.com.