Like most kids, I loved Star Wars and was enthralled by the adventures of the rebellion fighting against the evil empire. All I wanted to do when I grew up was become a Jedi like Luke Skywalker - fight the good fight, protect the people, be a force for good and become a hero. Not much to ask, but then again I’ve always been ambitious – even as an eight year old.
As I got a little older, went to university, entered the world of work and set up my own business, a funny thing happened – a Jedi Knight I became!
You see, to be a Jedi breeds a certain kind of culture. In being a Jedi, you need to be selfless in helping others and I believe there is a new strand of companies that abide by the key principles of the light side of the force.
Like a Jedi, successful and ambitious companies and their leaders, need to be agile. Jedi companies have a purpose that serves a greater good. They understand that doing things cheaper or faster is not always the best way to go and establish themselves as a market leader. Jedi businesses are built to fulfil a purpose, they teach and train people in their ways of how to be the best, whilst continually learning and improving upon their methods. They believe in the light side and trust their instincts. Doing things the right and proper way is a core philosophy which runs throughout their culture because ultimately, they care.
We see this in businesses like John Lewis, Virgin, Barclays and Zappos who all boast exceptional customer service and place the consumer at the heart of who they are as a brand. They exist to serve the people and understand the wants and needs of the individual. Profit is of course important, but comes secondary to doing things the right way. Companies who don’t place the consumer at the heart of what they are and only think about profit are battling on the dark side of the force where customer care often leaves a lot to be desired.
Striving to be the best is what keeps us driven, motivated and forward thinking as we aim towards achieving the Jedi master status. Luke is cool but Yoda is king. There is always something to learn and a Jedi business will never rest on its former glories.
The other critical Jedi trait is passion. “Be passionate” is my underlying key principle in business. Quite simply, you have to care about what you do, believe in your vision and show passion in every step you take. You have to stay dedicated and assemble a team around you that can share the same passion too – your staff, partners, customers, suppliers, agencies are all part of your business and your enthusiasm must transcend throughout them. If you have this, customers will see that you care and if they feel loved, you will win and retain their business and they will recommend you to their friends and family to help you continue to grow. If you show you care, you will receive a great return by gaining the genuine trust of your stakeholders and make them allies. It will go a long way to defeating the empire and winning the war.
Jedi also have the power of technology and this is something that’s key to any successful business operating today. You need to stay ahead of the technological curve and use technology to make people’s lives easier. In the same way the Jedi use techy gadgets to succeed in their missions, we develop and use technology that helps us perform better and also provides a shortcut to our customers. We know if they can click a couple of buttons on an app from their phone to order their Christmas tree or book a cleaning services, it will give them an easier and happier life.
As a Jedi leader it’s up to you to use “the Force” in the right way. A business is made up of lots of moving parts and all of these parts are interconnected. Harnessing the power of the Force in the Light side or the Dark side, will help you manage these parts but the way in which you do this is up to you. If you show passion in a positive way, you can effect a positive culture and build a business full of people that share your same passions. So to be a Jedi business, we are really talking about abiding by key philosophies and abiding by them with relentless desire to excellence.
At a time which has seen many businesses lose the trust of the people, including the likes of Volkswagen, wouldn’t it be great if more business owners installed a Jedi culture to help make the world a better place. As Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn once said, “Your focus determines your reality.”
By Rune Sovndahl, CEO of Fantastic Services