How Can Organizations Set Themselves Apart?

Effective, transparent leadership combined with a culture that’s focused on purpose is the key to delivering unmistakable value to those you serve. With thousands of brands competing for attention, it’s no surprise that organizations who prioritize customer experience are more likely to be successful.

In fact, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. How does an organization create a valuable customer experience?

It All Starts With Leadership

Chief Executive Jon Malone and his team at Northwestern Illinois Association (NIA) bring Principle 3: Build a Culture Around Service to life using unmistakable value. Serving others with great care and concern for example, is core to their vision.

How did NIA form the vision of unmistakable value?

“We asked people to think about ‘what is our purpose for our existence at NIA’ and ‘unmistakable value’ is what his team came up with,” answers Dr. KK Owen, Leader Coach.

Purpose Attracts and Inspires

The concept of unmistakable value connects to the organization’s overall purpose for existing. Employees want to work for organizations with a sense of purpose. When they’re aware of and connected to the purpose they’re motivated to serve. Specifically, employee engagement increases and customers leave with exceeded expectations.

For this reason, leaders weave purpose into team and individual goals, communications, and daily actions. Overall, they role-model how the organization’s purpose drives their daily actions to set the tone for everyone in the organization.

74% of LinkedIn members place a high value on finding work that delivers on a sense of purpose according to the 2016 Global Purpose Index. Additionally, research shows that companies that lead with purpose are more likely to be profitable; with 85% of purpose-led companies showing positive growth.

How Do You Cultivate a Culture Around Unmistakable Value?


To shift to a culture driven by unmistakable value, Jon Malone, working alongside coach KK Owen, began having conversations with his team focused around, What is the purpose for our existence? When we start with the reason for being, we can align what we value to that purpose to drive actions.

Ask leadership teams questions such as:

  • Who are we?
  • What is our purpose/reason for being?
  • What does this organization want to accomplish long term?
  • How is this organization different from others in the same industry?
  • What is special about us?
  • What do we value?

“In the beginning we had a lot of conversations about who are we, what is our purpose, and a lot of conversations about what other member districts are expecting of us, and how do we win by providing that unmistakable value,” explains KK.

The next step Jon and his team took was using the previous conversations with his team to identify and build standards of excellence. What does it look like when we are living our values? What does it look like when we are serving people? How can we effectively reproduce this organization-wide with consistency? What training will people need?

Leader Role Model

Leaders live in the spotlight; individuals perceive what is considered to be acceptable behavior from their leaders. Therefore, the success of a culture change relies on the leader’s commitment to the change. An effective leader starts by explaining why. They act transparently, honestly, presently, and participate in a positive manner.

KK demonstrates how Jon sets himself apart as a leader. “He led by example and still does to this day. He models the way for other leaders to live out that unmistakable value vision that he has. Jon is right there, as a participant, he does everything right alongside other leaders with absolute transparency and honesty.”

Clear Direction

Where are we going? What actions will take us there? The direction of the organization is tied to its purpose for existence and value that is provided to those we serve. People benefit from being shown how their daily actions connect to the bigger picture in a clear, concise way.

To illustrate to teams the value of their service, it’s critical to measure progress, gather feedback and share that information with employees and customers. When leaders are clear about the direction of the organization, what to measure becomes simplified, and teams can focus on the progress they’ve made and the obstacles they have to overcome.

“Jon’s leadership has really provided his team and the people they serve with unmistakable value and they are constantly facing those brutal facts with an improvement mindset,” recounts KK.

Organizations that measure what they value and have conversations about those numbers are able to identify opportunities for improvement. Consequently, these conversations facilitate how to get better at providing stakeholders with unmistakable value.  

To hear more about how Jon leads his team to ensure unmistakable value, listen to the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, episode #33 Unmistakable Value.

Learn more about creating unmistakeable value from 9P Online.

Creating Unmistakable Value | 9P Online

Like any other human relationship, the relationships we establish with our customers thrive on trust and respect. It’s only logical that we look to service providers to meet these same basic relational needs, but it’s not something every organization knows how to do.

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