Sunday, October 7, 2012

Should leaders NOT be brand loyal?

Should a business leader be completely loyal to his or her firm's products?

That may seem like a stupid question. You might think that it's obvious that they should be loyal. After all, if they aren't dedicated to their own products, why should customers be?

However, if leaders want to keep their thumb on the pulse of the competitive marketplace and stay in touch with key trends, they must purchase and consume competitors' products on a regular basis. They can't just observe those products from afar. They need to dig in and understand the purchase process for those products, and then they need to understand what's it like to be a typical consumer of that product. That means you have to do more than just casually handle the product once or twice. You need to become a regular user of some competitors' products or services.

Regular use proves critical, because you often do not understand the key benefits and disadvantages of a product or service at first glance; you may learn the key advantages, as well as pain points, as you consume the product or service over time.

About the author:

Michael Roberto is a professor of management at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI. He joined the faculty at Bryant after six years as a faculty member at Harvard Business School. His research, teaching, and consulting focuses on strategic decision-making processes and senior management teams. Michael's recent book, Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen, offers practical insights for managers based on this research. The book focuses on how leaders can become more effective "problem-finders" - hunting down the festering issues that could erupt into major catastrophes in their organization. You can read Michael 's blog at and follow him on twitter @michaelaroberto.

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