Leadership Competitive Advantage

Gerwig 2015-05-20

Are you a fast-food junkie? I’m not. I prefer “hole-in-the-wall” places where true foodies hang out. Whether it’s salmon or burgers or BBQ, I tend to look for unique, specialty, out-of-the-way dives. It’s all part of my adventurous spirit. It’s in my blood (thanks mother!!!).

Regardless of my travels, I like to try places off the beaten path. Whether in Cambodia, Kentucky, Indonesia, Connecticut, Spain, or North Carolina, thanks to sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and UrbanSpoon, I nearly always try unique, local hangouts. And I must say that I’m pretty good at finding winners. Recently I found an amazing place .5 miles from my sister’s house in Arizona. And I was the first in our family to give it a try (though my parents and sister live within a short drive). Why? I like food. I don’t cook much at home (so I eat out a lot). I’m adventurous. And I look. It’s kinda a hobby. If I could cook like my sister can, I’d rarely, if ever, eat out. In fact, if you tried her cooking, there’d be a line outside her door and TripAdvisor would give her 5 out of 5 stars.

As it is, I eat out a lot. And I usually look for small, off-the-wall places, but not always. I do have a few favorite fast food restaurants. I don’t eat at them often, but when I do eat fast food, I’m always on the lookout for them – Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and In-N-Out Burger!

Chipotle is amazing! If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. Chick-fil-A is, well, legendary. Who doesn’t love their sandwiches, their tea, and their service (“my pleasure!”)! And In-N-Out Burger, with their fresh fries and toasted bun. Plus you can order off the “secret” menu. “Animal style” anyone (my favorite)?

Recently while on a trip to Phoenix, I enjoyed one of my favorite local hangouts, Los Dos Molinos, but I also had the pleasure of enjoying a burger and fries at In-N-Out. I remember the first time I tried an In-N-Out Burger. I met a life-long friend (Russell Justice) in San Diego and we went to an In-N-Out. It was love at first sight. I was hooked. The toasted bun. The fresh fries. The clean restaurant. The excellent service. Wow! I loved it! And as the years went by, I learned that In-N-Out, like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A, has great consistency. Many fast food restaurants have a decent product but poor consistency. I’ve been to several (that will remain nameless) over the years and very few can boast of consistent products and service. It’s a “make or break.” Inconsistency and variability in product quality and service means I won’t come back (at least not on a regular basis). After all, who wants to pay for a burger or bun that’s been sitting around for 3 hours. Fresh, fast, consistent – that’s what I’ll pay for. If it’s good, that’s a bonus!

As I was eating at In-N-Out, I started thinking about leadership competitive advantage. In-N-Out is known for something. They have a brand. They have an image. They have a reputation. What is it they’re known for? Freshness. Consistency. Clean restaurants. Fast service. Excellence. Value.

The real question this week is, “what are you known for?” What is your leadership competitive advantage? What is your reputation? How do you distinguish yourself from others? How do you separate yourself from the pack?

Are you consistent? Are you quick to respond to others? Do you deliver as promised? Do you demonstrate excellence in your work? Do you role-model world-class behaviors?

Whether you’re eating a cheeseburger at In-N-Out in Phoenix or a lobster roll at Frank’s Lobster in Noank, Connecticut, think about your own brand, your own reputation, and your own core competencies. What is it you’re known for? Once you discover your leadership competitive advantage, you can build on your strengths and find your “leadership sweet spot” where passion, expertise, and environmental need come together to serve others and add value to society.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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