If you reflect on the people in your life who are “great leaders,” who comes to mind? Are they teachers, sports coaches, world leaders or your parents? What character traits and approaches to their roles do these people have in common? This list most likely includes being a good listener, having confidence in what he or she knows and does not know, communicating in a way that motivates others to take action and, most importantly, being someone who truly cares. I believe that this list is not all that different for brands who choose to be active leaders around a social issue.
Today, brands have more opportunity than ever to share their authentic voice, perspective and expertise around social issues that are important to them. These issues are complex, and the role of business in advancing solutions, positively impacting lives and being a part of the conversation is crucial. This is not only a leading strategy that can build a brand’s reputation and business but, it is what stakeholders seek as they develop deeper relationships with the brands they trust.
Two great examples of companies putting this strategy into action are Sam Adams and its commitment to small business and specifically low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs through Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ commitment to helping communities across the state develop healthier eating habits, active lifestyles, and environments via its new BCBSMA Healthy Living initiative.
These and other best-in-class companies, when taking a leadership position around an issue:
-Commit long-term to advance an issue
-Align resources to address specific needs
-Share the company’s voice and perspective
-Invest in new ideas and research
-Communicate their findings and their journey
The above tips and best practices are just a few of the insights I discussed during the October 21st ACCP Webcast, Crafting & Communicating Your Social Issue Leadership. During this interactive presentation, my colleagues and I shared examples from leading companies and provided strategies and tactics for becoming a social issue leader.