Moments That Matter: How Your Leadership Brand Is Defined In Moments Of Truth
Earlier this year I got engaged, which was a lovely celebration. During our holidays, we took some time to have a look at some potential venues and decided to go and have a look at a venue in the Gold Coast that I had been thinking about for some time. It was full of beautiful photos on Instagram and said on their website it had won “Hotel of the Year 2019.″ I was always in awe of the design and interior work. So I thought, what a perfect opportunity to go out and have a look.
I looked online and it said that breakfast finished at 11:00 and lunch would start at 12:00, so I said to my now fiancé, Mark, “I think we should go at 11:30.” He said, “But it says that their breakfast finishes at 11:00 and lunch starts at 12:00.” Knowing that, I said, “Our brand shows up most when things go wrong or when things are out of routine, so yes, 11:30 is the perfect time to go and check it out.”
So, we arrived at 11:30, and the lady at the venue looked us up and down. Her eyes essentially said, “what the hell are you doing here?!” We said to her, “Oh look, we just wanted to come and have a coffee and tea?” She replied bluntly, “well, I’ve just finished for breakfast and I’m having to set up for lunch”.
We said, “That’s okay, what would you like us to do?”
“Oh, well you’ll have to sit at the bar” and pointed to the bar stools behind us.
“That’s fine.” So we sat at the bar, she took our order and as she walked away, rolled her eyes.
“Did you just see that!?” Mark said.
“Yes, I just saw it. This is the reason why we come at this time because how they treat us is how they’ll treat our guests at the wedding who perhaps will have a request or need something that’s a bit out of the ordinary.”
Needless to say, they lost the sale.
Same scenario, extraordinary experience
Compare that experience with the Wynn Encore Hotel.
The Wynn Encore won 2019 Hotel of the Year by Forbes Magazine. It’s my favourite hotel in the world, but I must admit, I do have a bit of a thing for hotels. In fact, I can walk around hotels all day. I just love looking at architecture. I love getting a sense of service. I love looking at the restaurants, the design and interiors.
The Wynn Encore had been on my bucket list for a while so, in 2012, I finally decided to pay a visit. All I wanted to do was go and experience first-hand what it was like to be there. At one point, I was wandering around the hotel and somebody came up to me and asked, “Can I help you? You look lost.” It was 3:00 pm and I said, “I’m looking for something to eat.” It was too late for lunch, too early for dinner. He said, “That’s okay” and pulled out a list. He then walked me to a restaurant, and said, “I think this would be a really great spot.”
The Wynn has something called storytelling. What they do is they find ways to reward people who go out of their way. It’s shared across the business, and as a result, you have people actively looking for problems. People become like sniffer dogs trying to find problems because they are recognised for finding them instead of avoiding them. And this is the difference between an authentic world-class brand experience versus the original venue attempting to market themselves as world-class.
The moment of truth
So, what’s the point?
The point is that your brand, and indeed your leadership brand, shows up most when things go wrong. The true test of an authentic brand is how they manage when things are out of routine or don’t go to plan. When people are asked about the unusual, instead of going into, “we can’t do that,” we need to be asking questions or be curious. The problem is that we have a default mechanism which is fight or flight. It shuts down our prefrontal cortex and stops us from listening and finding a solution.
So when you’re building a brand, you need three things: clarity, communication, and control. The control part is about where your brand character sits. It’s in the moments of truth where your brand could show up at its most inauthentic. And when you lose customer belief, you lose trust.
It’s the same thing for leaders. You can have all the clarity that you like, you can be communicating your message all you like, but when things aren’t going right, you have to ensure you don’t come across as defensive. You need to shift into listening, finding solutions and connecting with people — otherwise you’re going to lose trust in you as a brand and leader.
There are 3 things you can do to manage this:
- Be aware that we naturally sit on autopilot. Our default is for our brain to reject something that’s not normal. You have to get used to when something is out of the ordinary. It’s time to play above the line, be positive and find a way to save the problem, instead of saying, “Oh, we can’t do that, or “well, you’ll have to sit at the bar.” Your brand authenticity is not about what happens, it’s about what happens next.
- Be present. When something really unusual happens, just listen to what people are saying, and be present to what they’re saying. Your brain will naturally take over on autopilot and reject what they’re saying, so it’s really important to stop coming across that way in your body language and in your words, so that you can find a solution. Listen, manage your response and pay attention rather than reject.
- Have a conversation with your staff around the risks where your team and leadership brand shows up most. Then you can role play what you would do in those situations, and you can recognise when people do the right job. At your next team meeting discuss “out of the ordinary” scenarios and what they could say to be curious, present and above the line. With enough practice you can out-train and out-coach the neural pathways and automatic fight or flight responses of rejecting the problem.
What can people say about your leadership brand in moments of truth? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Jane Anderson is a communication expert, speaker and the author of 6 books including “TRUSTED: The Level Above Influence.” With over 20 years of experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.