By Shawn Hunter
Amway understands that people and relationships remain at the core of their identity, embedded in fabric of their company, and essential to their success. With over 20,000 direct employees and over 7 million independent distributors operating in every continent but Antarctica, and nearly every country in the world, Amway needed a powerful, yet scalable, way to sustain the culture of the company, while at the same time attracting and building new leaders in the organization who would also understand, adopt and amplify the core leadership philosophies of the company.
With this goal of both growing the business, introducing new people, and at the same time preserving the Amway culture, Larry Looker, Manager, Global Leadership Development, and his team developed a plan to capture voices of distinction within the organization around the world by asking the simple question, “Who is leading the Amway way?”
The program developed into a signature solution, born from the character and core identity of the founding partners, and executed by the creative leadership of Larry and his team to find those individuals who epitomize an Amway leader, within their own organization.
Larry and his colleagues identified eighteen individuals across the organization, whom they felt exemplified the expression, “Leading the Amway Way,” and invited them to participate in a series of interviews delivering their story and voice on three key questions:
- What does leading the Amway way mean to you?
- What does it look like to live our Vision, Founders’ Fundamentals, and our Values?
- What advice do you have for newly hired or promoted Amway leaders?
Each leader interviewed is asked to demonstrate actionable leadership that can be easily shared, understood, and applied by others within Amway. Inversely, participants are also invited to explain the negative, and uninvited, outcomes associated with not behaving the Amway way. By explaining the negative, or vacuum effect, created by inaction on the part of an Amway leader, learners viewing the interviews can understand that taking action in leadership is a requirement, and inaction is not an option.
Four themes were identified as a result of these interviews: Partnering for Shared Success, Promoting Passion for the Business, Leading With an Enterprise First Focus, and Balancing Culture and Performance.
The video story telling sessions will begin in June, 2012 and later be edited and refined as short video presentations featuring Amway’s own voices of distinction, and then integrated in quarterly workshops conducted by talent and leadership development facilitators. The goal of these sessions is to not only introduce the core principles to emerging leaders, but importantly, reinforce these principles with the stories of true-to-life individuals in the company acting out these principles throughout their operating units around the world.
By identifying, capturing and then amplifying those powerful voices of distinction throughout the organization of those who lead “the Amway Way,” Larry has tapped into three key ingredients to building success for the business:
Use of Strategic Stories
One of the most important mediums we have as leaders, is that of communicating through strategic stories. Stories have enormous power of recall. Strategic stories are targeted stories intended to elicit a specific outcome, and sustained by sticky quality of stories to be memorable, and then easily recalled and acted upon.
Tapping Strong Internal Credibility
By leveraging those known experts and internal “voices of distinction,” Amway has tapped into one of the most valuable aspects for translating mindsets and skillsets by presenting a familiar and credible person to deliver the message. While necessary to always introduce external ideas and leading experts from a variety of academic and professional domains, these ideas are well reinforced when shared through real stories told by familiar people in the company.
Sustaining Company Identity
When faced with adversity, market pressures or negative press, sometimes organizations need to change their culture and brand. In order to build a truly iconic and signature brand, companies such as Amway understand the importance of not only leveraging new emerging technologies, market opportunities, and relationship building, but also understand that a key guiding force comes from the existing people and the stories readily available in the company. By capturing and sharing those powerful voices of distinction, Amway is able to sustain and reinforce the culture in a highly scalable manner through the power of engaging video interviews.
When presented with internal stories of leadership in action, Amway learners can more easily model that leadership in action to drive the kind of partnership, passion and performance to accelerate Amway growth without sacrificing their signature identity and mission of “helping people live better lives.”