Friday, March 7, 2014

Remember when being Number 1 meant so much?

In the heady days of the 80s I consulted to, or worked for organisations where there was really only one success metric - being market leader, or being 'Number 1'.

Depending on how you look at it, until the 90s, I never worked for a business that wasn't market leader. At Ford Australia, I remember publishing the staff tabloid in 1983 with the London Sun type  headline 'We did it!', as we knocked arch enemy, Holden, off it's perch as market leader. How times have changed, with both companies recently announcing their intention to quit the country, let alone market leadership.

When Hertz became a client in 1993, the global positioning line was 'Go with the world's #1', a counterpoint to Avis' legendary and blindingly successful line 'We try harder.'  Simultaneously, a guy called Bob Ansett was hammering a customer-first message for Budget, building market share by the age-old method of price discounting.

How many younger colleagues have I come across that have said 'I wish I was around in the 80s with all that money to spend.'. Yes, there was money to spend - mostly other people's - and much of it was pitched at securing the Holy Grail, market leadership.

These days, corporate leadership is defined across a wide range of metrics - financial, social, environmental,  governance, workplace - the list goes on. The fact that you sell more than anyone else is largely immaterial. There is no authenticity in selling more than anyone else. It could just mean you're cheaper and probably won't be around much longer. There's always someone bigger, meaner and with deeper pockets lurking around the corner.

What is the leadership metric that drives your organisation? I'd be interest to know.