For mid-market leaders, influencing beyond your size requires shaping the attitudes and beliefs of key people and compelling them to take action against a grand idea, ambition and goal. Consider these 3 key principles.
1. Give more than you take. Start with a purpose that benefits something or someone other than your company. Fairmount Santrol, a miner and supplier of sand for industrial applications, realized they could improve the lives of those in proximity to their mining sites. Instead of leaving big holes in their wake, they now partner with communities to convert inactive sites into nature preserves, parks, and recreational areas. Naturalists, politicians and residents now advocate on the firm’s behalf, spreading the word about how Fairmount Santrol is the miner that leaves communities better than they found them.
2. Rally your allies. You cannot influence everyone and everything you want by going solo. GOJO Industries realized this as they sought to change the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for hand sanitation which only allowed for soap and water, even though this method left the hands of healthcare professionals raw and chapped, leading to more infections, not fewer.
GOJO believed alcohol-based hand sanitizers would help caregivers sanitize better and more consistently, leading to fewer patient infections. But the CDC wasn’t going to listen to a product manufacturer.
GOJO assembled an army of like-minded academics to conduct research on the issue. The results proved hand sanitizers could do the job better, leading to the CDC changing its guidelines. This success was the result of a team of allies working together to drive a change that neither could have achieved alone.
3. Lead by example. When Clarke began exploring and creating environmentally friendly mosquito-control solutions, they weren’t just looking for revenue opportunities. They sought to reshape an industry long dominated by harsh petroleum-based chemistries.
But they didn’t start preaching to the industry that change was needed. They simply began investing in an eco-friendly business model and product development. Only after these initiatives took root, did they begin to share their story.
With weight behind their words, their story captured the interest of academic, regulatory, and business leaders, resulting in international acclaim and elevating the stature of their business.
Today Clarke works with the likes of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carter Center to help discover new ways to fight malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. Achievements in formulation work and a shifted corporate culture that encourages everyone to ask “what if” has talent seeking out Clarke for employment opportunities.
Progressive organizations thrive in the space where ambitions meet restrictions. That is where they find innovation and motivation. Following the key principles outlined above, mid-sized companies will be well-positioned to begin their quest to influence beyond their size and achieve greater growth.