Three lessons from Bernie Sanders
Recently I wrote an article about three things you could learn from Donald Trump. Those three things were: take more holidays; be quicker to fire and play to win. Just like Trump himself, the response to that article was polarizing. On one hand, I had people thanking me for the insight and on the other hand subscribers dropped off my mailing list. One fellow even went so far as to suggest that he believed that no education was ever wasted, however in my case, he would make an exception.
All laughter aside, it got me thinking about what business leaders might learn from Bernie Sanders.
At age 77, Sanders is one of the front runners for the Democratic Party nomination for the American presidential election taking place next fall. He captured the attention of the world in his run for the nomination in 2016 when he narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton.
Like his politics or not, there are a few things that every business leader could learn from Sanders.
Here are my top three observations of what Sanders does well.
1. Never give up. Sanders didn’t become the sensation he is now overnight. In fact, Sanders is a loser in the sense that he lost more elections than he won during the first couple decades of his career as a politician.
In fact, Sanders lost five elections for governor and senator before he won his first election as a mayor in 1980. Sanders ran again for the
senate in 1988 and lost again before winning.
What can we learn from this? In business, we might have to try several times before we become successful in our career as an entrepreneur. Failure is a bitter pill to swallow.
However, if we continue to learn from our losses, we usually can succeed as Sanders has demonstrated.
We need to believe that we have something valuable to offer and to persevere in our endeavors until we achieve our dreams. Remember that Edison failed in 10,000 experiments before he succeeded in building the light bulb.
For all we know, Sanders might have had to tweak his message 10,000 times before he got it right.
2. Branding works. Sanders has done a phenomenal job of branded branding himself in order to create a sensation that his followers want to be part of.
Sanders has followed the keys to branding success by differentiating himself from his competition, knowing his audience and understanding the messages that he needs to deliver that will evoke loyalty.
How effective is your business in building a brand that your followers love?
Too often organizations are unclear about what they stand for, what they are trying to achieve and the key messages that will get their ideal patrons to flock to them.
Sanders has clarity about what his message is and his campaign repeats those mantras to communicate his brand to his supporters.
3. Be consistent. Love or hate what Sanders stands for, you have to admit that his social and economic stands have been consistent over the 50 years of his political career.
While many politicians tend to change their messages to cater to tell the electorate what they want to hear, Sanders has remained consistent for decades.
Consistency in business is key to our success. We need to be able to provide consistency in the reliability of our products, service and communication to give our stakeholders a foundation that they can rely on.
Barring a stumble by establishment frontrunner Joe Biden, the chances of Sanders winning the democratic presidential nomination will be similar to his last round.
As leaders in our organizations, we need to not only be aware of other leadership styles, but conscious of the overarching trends in technology, society, economics and politics that could have an influence on our businesses. To survive in the future, we need to be ready to learn from the past and from those around us who are more creatively successful than we are at running organizations.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email your rant about Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump to [email protected]ityourselfhealthy.com.