Lead by deed

Last week, a taxi driver took me through an interesting road of leadership and branding. The previous night, I had booked for a taxi to pick me up at exactly 7:30am.

The designated time came, but there was no cab outside my door. My patience was being stretched and I was getting worked up with each passing minute.

In desperation, I called the cab company and was given the classic excuse: the driver is stuck in traffic. My concern was that I was running late for my meeting. The only thing the cab company’s explanation did was to elevate my blood pressure. They made me feel stupid. You see, if I wanted a traffic update, I would have tuned into any of the early morning radio shows.

Finally, the cab arrived. Another driver had been dispatched from a different location. Why did they not do this in the first instance? In my frustration, I was getting ready to chew off the cab driver’s head. It was their mistake I was running this late anyway.

“Dinosaurs dominant in the past, their present value is museum fees. Learn from past, act in future; be relevant.” #mythink

When he arrived, the driver was a far cry from the moribund customer care one is accustomed to find in many Kenyan companies. He was professional, well articulated, apologized on behalf of the company and took my ‘rabid’ complaints square on his chin. What followed, however, was phenomenal. Not only was this guy a driver, to me he was the company’s ‘CEO of the day’.

He went ahead to elaborate to me how the company had experienced rapid expansion. How the company’s operations were not up to speed. There were many new customers, vehicle importation process, and the new look of the company. In a very simple manner, this driver could articulate the company’s strategic plan and direction.

I now had hope that the company was just going through some minor operational hic-up. My services would not suffer again and current issues were being resolved.

True leaders should take note that the success of their brand lies not in sales, bottom-line or market share, but with their frontline staff. These are the real leaders, albeit without a title. They help deliver the brand promise. Invest in them, that they are properly trained and fully internalize the organization’s vision.

So if you thought that your title opens doors, be assured that it is your foot soldiers that will keep it open in the long run. What are you doing to ensure that your employees live your brand? How does your leadership entrench trust in your brand?

Your brand needs leaders at all levels. Your people are your brand. Empower them.

“Our brand is the experience beneficiaries [customers] have when they partner with us.” Fredrick Gori, Kenya Red Cross.

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • brad hanson

    Kim,

    Once again, you have written the perfect article. The best leadership does flow from the bottom-up, not the top down. This man will not be driving a cab for long.
    Brad @managementbrad

    • Thank you Brad for your comments. I too do not think the guy will be there for long. He was already thinking of moving on. Planning how he could attract just one client and buy a cab of his own, and maybe employ other cabbies.

  • Kimunya, thanks for a great post. I agree that attitude inspires and front-line personnel have the greatest impact on the success of any business in the moment. Thanks for reaching out online too.

    Mike…

    • My pleasure, and thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Great article with wonderful lessons for any leader!

    • Thank you Mxolisi. Hope we can move Africa forward 🙂