What is one thing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google boss Larry Page, and Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey all have in common? Apart from all leading hugely successful tech companies, they all refuse to mention this one word. What is the word? Revenue.
Discussions involving the topic of revenue are commonly seen as central to the art of effective management, leadership and organisational performance. It is a fundamental metric used by employees, investors, media, analysts and the public to gauge how a company is performing. After all, generating revenue is the number one goal of operation in the majority of businesses, and due to this, it is a topic often covered when discussing the performance of the firm. But with the obvious exception of a few unavoidable instances where finance is the topic of conversation, these three leaders studiously avoid discussing revenue with employees and within management meetings.
Why, you may ask? These three innovative leaders understand one fundamental truth regarding revenue: it is a lagging indicator. To these leaders, revenue is a natural product of operating effectively and doing the right things at the right time in every other realm of performance: purpose, strategy, customers, products and employee morale.
Instead of framing your employees’ wins as the generation of revenue, or bringing in more money, frame winning and success as building brand awareness, earning market share, serving customer needs, winning the innovation race, or acquiring new clients and users. Revenue will naturally flow from these activities.
So, for those of you who would like to become great leaders, delete this word from your lexicon. Focusing on revenue takes the focus away from the things that matter: purpose, strategy, customers, products and employee morale. Revenue will flow from great operations that focus on an enduring purpose, a compelling strategy, and serving your customer or client base better than any of your competitors can.