You don’t expect a habit of openness from a pizza company, but Domino’s Pizza has shaken up the industry. They told the world that their pizza sucked through a campaign called “Oh Yes We Did.” To formally make amends and launch a new recipe for their signature product, Domino’s had to admit the poor quality of their old recipe. The company realigned the perception of their product by getting real and embracing an openness and authenticity uncommon in the food industry. No other national brand in recent memory has led a new marketing effort with “We stink.”
Facing their critics, the company worked to reestablish their pizza from the crust up. The pizza improved. And this is important: no matter how authentic and open, if Domino’s had promised to get better and didn’t, they would have lost all trust with the customer. But the new pizza was good, and lived up to the authentic brand promise.
Domino’s CEO, Patrick Doyle, took to the radio waves and TV screens and made himself available for interviews and conversations. The company’s profits soared 16 percent in the third quarter of 2014, and as Jesse Solomon of CNNMoney mentioned on Business Insider recently, “The pizza is actually better now, and the marketing campaigns are cheesy good instead of just cheesy.” Shares of Domino’s stock rose 30 percent from 2013 to 2014. Domino’s moved into the slot of the world’s hottest pizza chain.
Leaders must make honesty and trust the standard for their organizational culture. In your organization, it starts with you. You have to lead on this. It’s about the people believing the leader, and the leader always believing in the people. The more influence you gain and the more you have to lose, the less likely you are to be vulnerable and share your own struggles. We impress people through our strengths, but we truly connect with people through our weaknesses and areas of struggle.
Authenticity is built on trust. Trust is the prism through which all business and organizational transactions must pass. Unfortunately, in today’s leadership culture, trust has completely eroded. Eighty-one percent of companies are not trusted. The number is even lower for politicians. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. And remember, “I don’t know” is an okay answer. You aren’t a leader because you know everything, but you are a leader because you know how to find answers and solve issues.
Trust requires accountability and transparency. John Maxwell has noted, “Leadership functions on the basis of trust. When trust is gone, the leader soon will be.”
Believe it or not, learning to share the real you with others will make your family, friends, and staff stronger and more authentic too. There’s a feedback mechanism that comes with openness: If you don’t share the real you, others won’t share the real them. In most settings, people are only as open as the person sitting across the table from them.
Additionally, the ability to share one’s real self with others can set apart leaders from the pack. No one else is as much you as you are. Rather than covering up our worst parts and exaggerating our best parts, we should allow the unique mix of both to make them distinct and give them personality. Be the varsity version of you, not the junior varsity version of someone else.
As psychotherapist and leadership consultant Jane Shure points out, “If we buy into the notion that we are supposed to be like someone else, different from how we are, we are headed for trouble. We are not the same, nor should we be. Each of us has grown up with a distinct genetic inheritance, family patterns and school communities that have left indelible marks on us and within us.”
Embrace who you are, and even as you work to refine and improve that person, learn to share yourself with those around you. A habit of openness will help you feel freer and lead more effectively.
We hope you enjoyed this 5-part series from our friend Brad Lomenick. More on leadership identity and other essential leadership habits in H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle, which released this week.
Brad Lomenick is a renowned speaker, sought-after leadership consultant, and leader for 10 years of Catalyst, one of the largest gatherings of young Christian leaders in the nation. He is the author of The Catalyst Leader, and H3 Leadership. More at bradlomenick.com.