I just finished reading a book called “The Servant.” It’s about this guy that is really screwing up at work, his relationships are not all that great, and he is basically just lost in life. His wife encourages him to go to this leadership course that’s located at a monastery, of all places. One of the monks there used to be a high-powered business guy that basically left it all to teach people how to lead others by becoming a servant first. Does that sound like a contradiction to you? It did to me as well, but I kept reading and came across some real wisdom.
Some of the best leaders in the history of the world were servants. Think about Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela. They didn’t just show up on the scene and pronounce themselves as the leader of a movement and encourage everybody to follow them. They worked with the people and for the people. They served others and their causes unselfishly, which is why they ended up with so much support. These guys were true leaders, and as a result have inspired millions of people.
How much of this do we see in business today? How many of you can say that your CEO comes to work every day to serve the shareholders and the people in your company instead of sitting behind a desk of power, delegating all of the heavy lifting, expecting others to serve him or her? Does that leader work for you or do you work for them? How many of you are that servant leader? What if we all were?
So how do we tie all of that back to the mattress industry, you ask? Easy. The end consumer is telling us that shopping for a mattress is a horrible experience, so I would suggest to you that we are not serving them well. Don’t place all the blame on the retailer, either. I am tired of hearing that. We all own this grade on the report card, so figure out what your company, or even what you personally, can do to make that better. Gut-check time…how often does your team ask the simple question, “How can we serve the end consumer better?”
My friend Mike Magnuson started a website called GoodBed.com that helps over 150,000 mattress consumers a month. This team wakes up every day trying to figure out how to take the mystery out of the mattress-shopping experience and give the consumer a little help in navigating the obstacle course we have created. If you have not already, take a look at what GoodBed.com is doing. You might get some ideas on how you can serve the consumer.
When I think about the greatest leader of all time, I am immediately drawn to my faith as a guide to the answer. If you give that one some thought, I am sure you will get to the same place I did, and if not, I hope that someday you do. No matter the brand of religion you subscribe to, the inspiration is the same.
How are we serving the industry and our consumers? What are YOU doing to improve our world? Tell me in the comments section below.