Share a Coke & Learn Three “Refreshing” Leadership Lessons

Coca-Cola launched its Share a Coke® Campaign again this summer. If you haven’t seen it, odds are you simply aren’t paying attention. If you hustle to the grocery store, you will likely discover bottles emblazoned with first names – perhaps even yours. As a twist this year, coke products also feature a select group of last names. I doubt Leddin is on the list, but maybe your last name made the cut.

A while back, I traveled to Iceland to deliver a leadership workshop. While in a convenience store, I snapped this picture (see below). Take a look at the names on the bottles, depending on where you live they might be pretty uncommon. They certainly are different than the ones I found in the store closest to my home.

As I reflected on the picture I took of the bottles in the Icelandic store, I considered what made the campaign so effective and what leaders can learn from it. Here are 3 “refreshing” thoughts to consider:

1. Recognize people as individuals

Imagine picking up a bottle of Coke with your name on it. It’s not a generic bottle – it’s your bottle. We like that feeling of personal connection. It works, People will go from one store to the next to find their bottle.

The same concept applies with the people you lead. They aren’t just warm bodies in a cubicle maze or interchangeable parts in a machine. They are individuals, each with unique capabilities, hopes, dreams, and a wide-range of other characteristics that make up the human experience. Your people want to be recognized as individuals. You should know what matters to each of your team members. You should understand what motivates each person. Don’t assume you know; ask. You might be surprised by their answers.

2. Invite people to participate in something bigger than themselves

The Share a Coke® campaign invites people to join in the process. You can go to Coke’s website, search for your name, watch videos from around the world, share your thoughts, etc. People aren’t just buying a soda, they are participating in an effort, one that is bigger then themselves.

The same is true at work. The best leaders invite their people to participate. They ask them for their feedback on goals, they solicit how best to accomplish work, and they encourage team members to openly track and talk about work progress. Along the way, the team members build something together that they could not do on their own. As Stephen R. Covey wrote, “without involvement, there is no commitment.”

3. Create positive-memorable experiences

Coke isn’t simply satisfying someone’s thirst, they are working to create a great experience that extends beyond the moment. People get excited when they see their names, they save the bottle, and they talk about it. A memorable experience is created that doesn’t end when the bottle is empty.

Think about a great team you have been part of – you likely worked hard, accomplished things that truly mattered, forged enduring relationships, and created a few memories along the way. Ten years from now, your people won’t remember the specific goal your team is working on today. They won’t recall how many items sold, how much revenue generated, what costs were cut, etc.; however, they will remember what it feels like to work for you. They will remember what it was like to be on your team. Make their efforts a positive-memorable experience.

Do you want to know if Coke has a bottle with your name on it? Go to this site and see.

Photo by Talles Alves on Unsplash