One of the highlights, for me, of Community 2.0 was to hear Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com talk about the kind of company he built. Two of the fundamental strategic choices that have made Zappos so successful:
- The decision to shift from shipping orders through suppliers to running its own 24*7 warehouse. This decision cost the company 25% in revenues, but made it clear that the focus of the company and its brand would be on customer service.
- The equation of customer service = brand = culture. Zappos is rigorous about its core values and the culture that it wants to maintain, to the extent that 50% of an employees performance review is based on how the employee lives the companies core values and culture.
Among those core values is #6, Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication. Zappos goes all the way with communication, including its own Twitter feed (at http://www.twitter.zappos.com — when Twitter is working — you can click through to see the employee tweets.) You can also read (and you can assume that Tony does, too) the comments of customers that fill up the main page. This is open, this is leadership. This is being able to respond in the age of networks.
Today, I just read through Andrew McAfee’s post about Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt. McAfee voiced the frustration he hears from his students who think that no other company can be like Google because it is just unique. He reports how Schmidt responded to the question of what other managers can learn from Google:
“They can learn to listen. Listening to each other is core to our culture, and we don’t listen to each other just because we’re all so smart. We listen because everyone has good ideas, and because it’s a great way to show respect. And any company, at any point in its history, can start listening more.”
In my book, Net Work, I offer two assumptions about leadership in this new era:
- That everyone in a network can influence the relationships in and thereby the outcomes of the network
- That the work of leaders is primarily to to create and maintain the conditions that enable relationships
It’s good to start seeing evidence of truly great companies that are led by people who have this respect for, who listen to, and who nurture communications. This is the future of work.