The importance of the impact of a company’s CEO is obvious. They’re at the head of a company and they are the driving force behind most decisions that the company makes. CEOs will typically have the final say in a decision and they’ll be first to criticise an idea if something is going wrong.
However, their words can’t turn into actions unless employees are willing to follow through.
People often believe that lesser roles and junior positions can’t make an impact on the success of an organisation. However, that’s far from true and there are plenty of great examples of how people can make a positive impact on a business from the most unlikely positions.
The impactful story of a renowned toothpaste company
There’s a famous story of a renowned toothpaste company that has somewhat become an urban legend.
Legend has it that in the 1950s, a toothpaste company was looking to increase its sales and revenue. Their salespeople and marketing team couldn’t think of anything, so they decided to host a competition for people in the company to suggest how they could improve sales. After several days of ideas being flung around, nobody could come up with a solid plan to improve the company’s revenue.
That is until a person from outside the company approached them.
This person said that they could sell the toothpaste company an innovation that would give an immediate 40% increase in business. However, it would cost the company $100,000 to obtain the exclusive rights. While initially sceptical, the company caved after several weeks and decided to buy this idea.
After the deal was settled, the man produced a brown envelope with a small slip of paper inside. On the paper, he wrote four simple words; “make the hole bigger”. Since toothpaste tubs had a small opening, you could make an increase in sales by simply widening the hole, causing consumers to use up their toothpaste faster.
This is a great example of how a small voice can come along with an idea that nobody else in the company has. It was a simple idea that was overlooked by the most well-trained and reputable salespeople and marketing experts in the company. Looking at something from a different perspective can really change the solutions that you come up with.
Great leaders can inspire others to join in
The idea of communicating a big vision to all of your staff may seem far fetched at first. After all, how do you convince a janitor that they’re doing something for the greater good?
There’s a popular legend that touches on this. During a tour of the NASA headquarters in 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked a janitor “why are you working so late?”.
The janitor responded bluntly, “Mr President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
This wasn’t unique to the janitor either. Everyone that was involved in putting Neil Armstrong on the moon answered similarly when asked what they were doing. Instead of fixing wiring or stitching space suits, they were all working to “put a man on the moon”.
NASA itself had complicated and open-ended goals. However, by simplifying it to a simple goal of “putting a man on the moon”, suddenly everyone could identify with what NASA was trying to achieve. It’s an aspiration that everyone connected with, making it easier to rally people around a common goal.