Every time I come across a business that wants to be a market leader I know what they are thinking about: A big, fat check. The massive pay-off that comes with being at the head of the pack, the reputational value of being first and being perceived as somehow being better. Everyone in the boardroom starts seeing dollar signs the moment they hear the words “Market Leader”.
Here’s what they all miss:
- A market leader is more than the company with the biggest share of the market. It is the company who is representative of its entire industry. It sets the tone. It guides the conversation. It raises the bar to the point that the whole industry it represents evolves around it.
- A market leader is the industry weather-vane and its moral compass.
These two things make it imperative that a market leader has a clear grasp of its own identity and mission statement and can deal with the pressure.
There are plenty of examples of companies and people who folded under pressure. Volkswagen failed to deal with it and resorted to cheating. Lance Armstrong did the same long enough to almost believe his own lie.
Two things happen when market leaders have clay feet:
- Others in the same industry feel that they have the permission to somehow be equally bad. It’s Mitsubishi came clean very recently and Armstrong used the “everybody’s doing it” defense.
- Public trust is eroded not just in those who have been proved to be untrustworthy but the whole industry they represented. Automakers are struggling to regain it in Europe and trust in athletics is on the wane.
These are things those who want to be market leaders rarely consider. Worse still, they aren’t though much about by those who are around them either.
The world is changing. Not overnight and not all at once, but it is changing nevertheless. In my talks to corporate groups, CEOs, VPs and industry leaders I gleam insights of how this change is happening. What evidence exists. Why some things happen and not others and how we can best take advantage of it all to do better. In Observations I catalogue it all. Brief, to the point and open to discussion.