What LUSH can teach us about authentic brands and authentic cultures.


PAYING IT FORWARD

I was at Lush the other day with my kids. The kids spent hours deliberating over which bath bomb to buy and finally selected the brightest bath bomb they could find. We eventually left and a staff member came running down the street enthusiastically giving the kids the extra bath bombs they were considering. ‘Just paying it forward!’ the sales person said to us. We were blown away (no pun intended)!

AUTHENTICALLY LIVING THE COMPANY’S VALUES

In that moment, my kids and I deepened our brand loyalty. Hell yes, we’ll be back! At the same time, I really felt that the sales person loved the act of passing it on. It felt authentic. The retailer had created the opportunity for the staff member to feel good about themselves, feel good towards the company and engage with the customer. Clearly staff are given permission by the leaders at Lush as well as the resources to actually be generous…not just say they are. I was speaking to a store Manager at a major UK food chain soon after and she mentioned they do the same thing and call it TNT’s…Tiny Noticeable Things (what is it with the bomb theme?). Again leadership and structures are put in place to enable staff. I believe these small acts of kindness create value for staff, customers and the organisation as a whole. They build brand value which inevitably contributes to the bottom line.

THE BIG QUESTION: HOW?

How do you support your staff to live your shared company values? Arguably, two elements are Authentic Leadership and structural empowerment. Authentic Leadership is a model of leadership anchored in the leader’s desire to create business results while supporting the well-being of staff along the way. Structural empowerment is the ‘presence of social structures in the workplace that enable employees to accomplish their work in meaningful ways’ (Kanter, 1977, 1993). In other words staff have the necessary information, support, opportunity and resources to get on with it. Stating the bleeding obvious I know but stick with me. In a study done in a nursing unit by Wong & Lashinger in 2013, staff reported higher levels of performance and job satisfaction as they felt they had high levels of structural empowerment. This was delivered by their unit Managers who rated high on Authentic Leadership.

I know creating authentic cultures is complex, but at least two ingredients to consider are leadership and structural empowerment. That is, have your leaders completely bought into your values? Are they prepared to give permission to staff to really live them? And do staff have the information, support, opportunity and resources to get on and live them?

For more information on enhancing performance and well-being at work please visit www.yellowowl.co.uk or feel free to get in touch at laura@yellowowl.co.uk.

References

Kanter R.M. (1977) Men and Women of the Corporation. Basic Books, New York.

Kanter R.M. (1993) Men and Women of the Corporation, 2nd edn. Basic Books, New York.

Wong, C. A., & Laschinger, H. K.S., (2013) Authentic Leadership, performance, and job satisfaction: the mediating role of empowerment, Journal of Advanced Nursing. 69 (4), 947-959.

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