The famous business guru Peter Drucker wrote more than 10,000 pages on the subject of management. Across 39 books translated into 36 languages, you can bet he learned a bit along the way. It’s the reason he’s widely considered the “founder of modern management.” In his book The Practice Of Management, Drucker states, “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He [the customer] alone gives employment.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Farm Credit Services of America, a customer-owned financial cooperative that finances and protects farmers and ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Everywhere I turned and with every person I interviewed, it was obvious Mr. Drucker would be thrilled with their business philosophy. Their customer is truly their No. 1 priority. All policies, procedures, products and services are in place for the sole purpose of helping their customers.
Maybe we should all consider ourselves “customer-owned cooperatives.” After all, every part of our existence is based upon our customers. They may not directly own our companies, as they do at Farm Credit Services, but, as Mr. Drucker wrote, they alone give us employment.
Farm Credit Services was having an Executive Summit with 70 senior directors to discuss what more they could do to better serve their customers. They allowed me the opportunity to interview 15 people, from senior management to sales and field personnel, so I could dig down to find what really makes them tick. They didn’t inquire as to what I would be asking their employees, nor did they give me any directions, concerns or restrictions as to what I could discuss. It doesn’t get any more transparent than that.
Did I uncover any complaints, concerns or frustrations? Sure I did – every company has them. But more importantly, I discovered how proud they were to be serving their customers. Their heartfelt dedication to doing everything they could to ensure their customers succeed in a competitive and volatile market was a pleasure to witness. If someone were to ask me how I would sum up Farm Credit Services, I would choose one word: proud.
You can’t mandate proud. You can’t force people to be proud. Pride is a culture, a foundation deeply rooted in the fabric of an organization. You can feel it whenever you’re around a proud organization, see it in the actions of their entire team and hear it in their words. We could all learn from Farm Credit Services’s example. If you want to succeed, both personally and as a business, then you need to:
Think proud – embody pride in your attitude.
Feel proud and show it in everything you do.
Be proud and be willing to stamp your name on the job you do for the people you serve.
Robert Stevenson is one of the most widely recognized professional speakers in the world. Author of the books How To Soar Like An Eagle In A World Full Of Turkeys and 52 Essential Habits For Success, he’s shared the podium with esteemed figures from across the country, including former President George H. W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Anthony Robbins, Tom Peters and Steven Covey. Today, he travels the world, sharing powerful ideas for achieving excellence, both personally and professionally.