March 25, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 12

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

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A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master
Business Coach
Leadership Needs Followers, Business Needs Customers

This week, the Secretary-General of the United
Nations put forth a plan which among many things
challenged developed countries to remove import
tariffs and commit a percentage of their GDP to
aid. I found this action and potential action
interesting on a much larger plane.

In the United States, you don’t hear mainstream
media discussing how by creating such a large
trade deficit, the US is lifting up those
countries who are transitioning from agrarian
economies to industrial economies. We don’t talk
about how many jobs we created in other parts of
the world. It seems we’re only concerned about the
number of jobs we lost in the US.

When we look at what the economy of the US (for
whatever reason) has created in terms of jobs,
it’s phenomenal. I haven’t heard anyone say
anything about that rate of growth.

Is it we don’t care about the global effects of
our actions?

There are lots of reasons why we probably don’t
hear about these kinds of things. For one, we
haven't started thinking as a planet yet. What a
concept, eh?

I entitled this piece “Leadership Needs Followers,
Business Needs Customers.”

After writing that, a lot of thoughts entered my
mind about what I was really saying. I know what I
meant. I mean that if you’re going to be an
effective leader, you have to cultivate followers.
In the same vein, if you’re going to be an
effective business, you have to literally
“cultivate” and “grow” customers. At face value,
it would present you with enormous problems, much
like those we have today because we operate as
nation-states, or cultures and not as a planet.

Growing customers at one level could seem
materialistic and Machiavellian. I would accept
that label. However, let’s not throw the baby out
with the bath water. The economic engine that the
Secretary-General is relying on to change poverty
around the world is the same mechanism which
creates materialism.

In other words, every bright-side has a dark
side…that is if you think in terms of either/or.
What I’m suggesting is that the mechanism to
approach what is essentially a self-organizing,
emergent system can be leveraged, as the
Secretary-General suggests.

In the same vein, leaders can cultivate followers
and business can grow customers, as long as we
apply three filters:

• Efficiency, or the use of resources in a way
that optimizes usage;

• Effectiveness, where RightAction™ takes place:
the right people, things, ways, space, time and
reasons creating the RightResults™, which can only
be managed through dialogue;

• Sustainability or the ability to keep the goose
prospering while you collect eggs.

That’s it in a nutshell.

We can’t deny the necessity of leaders and
followers, business and customers, but we have to
make sure that the game doesn’t destroy itself.
And in the process, we create opportunities for
people to lift themselves up out of poverty to
become the mechanism for sustainable consumption.

I’ll admit the limitations of a system like this
and the potential for misuse, but leaders need
followers and business needs customers…a hard set
of facts to deny. It’s food for thought.

Mike R. Jay, Founder

P.S.  Please visit my blog at to comment on
this and other articles about leadership.

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