I just completed The Leadership Circle Assessment certification and one of the qualities of an effective leader that stood out to me was “Courageous Authenticity.” Based on what I’m learning about the newest generation of leaders, this is a necessity, not a nice to have.
Just as I finally feel like I've gotten a grasp on the Millennial generation, in marches the “Digital Natives.” But there’s good news… this is a generation that values integrity and authenticity. In his article, “After the Millennials” which appeared in the June, 2015 edition of “Success”, Owen Shapiro asserts that if companies can demonstrate to this latest generation of consumers that they are doing the right thing, then the digital natives will want to stand behind them. These new consumers are not interested in the sleazy sales pitch and they have the ability to tune it out. This makes them more difficult to reach, to be sure, but it is absolutely possible.
First, ensure that your organization’s mission, goals, procedures and communications are in alignment. Then, be transparent about what your organization stands for. You must “represent and reveal your values, because consumers buy brands that reflect their values.” Chipotle is a great example of a company doing just that. They have a loyal customer base who believes in Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” initiative. They are excited to get behind a fast food chain willing to put their money where their mouth is. Shapiro asserts that social media is a useful tool to employ in building lasting relationships with your customer base. He argues that it allows an organization to have direct access to individual consumers. Successful companies are positioning themselves as trusted friends by offering tips, recipes, hassle-free refunds or free products. Find areas where you can give up some control to your customers. Invite them to submit ideas for new flavors, new packaging or design.
Ultimately, what you want is a customer base who believes in what you are doing because today’s tech savvy consumers are not interested in being targeted for a sales pitch. They want something to rally around. Showing them who you are and what you believe in will give them a reason to get behind you. Digital natives are consumers who are advocating for companies with authenticity. What are some of the ways you reveal your values to your customers?