We all know the people; the needy spouse, the coworker always fishing for compliments, the friend in need of constant approval and validation. They love to be loved. And who can blame them? It feels nice. But in business, as in life, real love is shown through actions not words.
The need to be constantly told that one is liked, valuable, or even loved can be an impediment to anyone’s success, but when that person is steering the ship, a somewhat annoying trait can take on a much more ominous undertone.
Now, I’m not implying that you shouldn’t care what your customers think of you or that you shouldn’t want to be liked. We’ve all basked in the glow of lavish praise and yearned for more at some point in our lives. But when it becomes a primary focus, a goal even, it can quickly obfuscate the vision of your business strategy and lead you astray.
I call this phenomenon “needy orphan syndrome”. When someone get so wrapped up in their need to be loved that they lose sight of the practical, measurable business strategy that they (hopefully) so diligently labored over once upon a time. Again and again I’ve witnessed decisions being made because, “People will really like us if we did (fill in the blank)” instead of, “Does this make sense for our company and our brand? And does it fit into our business strategy?”
Before you know it you’ve developed products that people love in theory, but have no practical use for, or the company has taken off in so many directions it losses its unified vision and goals, or you’ve found yourself floating aimlessly on the edge of an industry that has little to do with your current products or services.
As cold and un-touchy-feely as it is (maybe it’s just my Yankee nature), business decisions have to be made because the projected sales numbers, ROI, marketplace analysis, and potential for furthering the overarching goals of the company say so.
It’s nice to hear customers tell you how much they love you, but if they really love you, they’ll show it. They’ll show it through brand loyalty, spreading the word about your great company, and being the first in line for your new products. In business, as in life, actions speak louder than words. Anybody can say “I love you”, loyal customers will show you. And they are the ones you should be concerned with, not the ones willing to appease you with cheap compliments.