Sorry for being a little late on this post. In the spirit of the holiday season, I watched Miracle on 34th Street the other night. Aside from being a holiday feel-good movie, there is a great lesson about leadership and commerce.
Santa Claus, the real one, takes up post in the Macy’s department store in Manhattan. Because he is the real Santa Claus (and not a store employee promoting Macy’s products), he begins telling parents where they can find toys that Macy’s does not have in stock. Santa, the holiday authority, is sending customers out of Macy’s and to their competition! The department manager catches wind of this and at first is infuriated, understandably so. Then he meets with Mr. Macy and finds out that Macy’s has been overwhelmed with customer feedback about how helpful their store has been and how they now have many new lifelong customers. The policy of directing customers to the store best suited for their needs is institutionalized and Macy’s views itself as the “humanitarian department store”.
This is an awesome leadership and business lesson. When you meet the legitimate needs of your followers, even to the detriment of your bottom line (in the short run), you will win long term success and loyalty.