In the introduction to his latest book, The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek sets up a situation that will likely resonate with anyone grappling with the hard decisions brought on by the current global health crisis. The 2020 NFDA International Convention & Expo keynote speaker notes that people are, “naturally inclined to seek out immediate solutions to uncomfortable problems and prioritize quick wins to advance our ambitions.”
He goes on to write that, while this strategy may work for a while, it can have negative repercussions later. A better path, Sinek explains, is to choose to play the “infinite game” that looks beyond “arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames” and helps organizations experience lasting success.
The book outlines how businesses can begin to think in terms of an infinite mindset rather than a finite one and provides examples of companies that aligned their leadership strategy to fit those principles. These and many other insights are meaningful for funeral professionals as you serve client families and plan for the future of your business. Consider, for example, Sinek’s take on how leaders approach change:
“An infinite-minded leader does not simply want to build a company that can weather change but one that can be transformed by it.”
It can be tempting to look at shifts in consumer preference as obstacles that must be overcome rather than opportunities to adapt in a way that brings value for your clients long into the future. Firms that adapt their thinking to see change as a potential catalyst for a competitive advantage can set themselves up to succeed in the long term.
If client families express preferences for services and options that are outside of the way you’ve always done things, do you see these as inconveniences that disrupt your process (finite thinking) or do you embrace the renewed focus on how you can make memorialization even more meaningful for your communities in the future (an infinite approach)? The change in mindset, which calls for you to compete against your own firm to earn the loyalty of the community you serve, can be tremendously beneficial in the long term.
Sinek’s writings are also helpful in building out the principles that guide your firm’s decisions and ultimately decide how your business will be perceived. For example, in Start With Why, Sinek offers his expertise in how some leaders and companies have become particularly influential. The book explains that everything we do should start by first asking ourselves why:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Some firms try to differentiate themselves based on things their competitors could choose to replicate or even overshadow: the lowest price, the biggest selection of options, the nicest facilities. It’s far more difficult to compete with a compelling story about why your firm is in business – and how that interacts with your clients’ perceptions about themselves.
In Start With Why, Sinek offers numerous examples of companies that have successfully identified and communicated their purpose and established unmatched brand loyalty as a result. He explores the biology behind consumers’ buying decisions and how this process goes beyond the rational benefits of choosing a particular company’s products or services. This understanding can help your firm make decisions from hiring and retaining people who are passionate about your purpose to attracting loyal clients who truly value your “why.”
Sinek also offers practical advice for leaders – rooted in biology – in his book Leaders Eat Last. He shares the role that leaders should strive for and why this role is crucial for both the employees and the overall success of the company:
“As leaders, it is our sole responsibility to protect our people and, in turn, our people will protect each other and advance the organization together.”
When reading through positive online reviews of funeral homes, common themes tend to appear – notably, that client families focus on their experience with the people who served them after the loss of a loved one. Reviewers often mention specific staff members by first name, giving insight into the care and compassion those staff members demonstrated after the loss of a loved one.
Those exceptional experiences with staff members would be difficult to achieve without a workplace culture that makes the staff feel they themselves are cared for and that their work is valued not just by the people they serve, but also by the people who lead the firm. The numerous case studies throughout Leaders Eat Last can help leaders – and those who aspire to a leadership role – understand what it takes to inspire teams and ultimately help an organization succeed.
If you’d like to learn more about the lessons shared here, I encourage you to read Sinek’s insights in the books I’ve noted. Homesteaders is proud to be the Double Black Diamond Sponsor for the 2020 NFDA convention, helping the NFDA present Sinek’s insights to attendees.