Marketing leadership lessons from July 4, 1776

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thus began a proclamation that changed the course of world history. It is hard to imagine today what conditions must have been like for people to risk everything for a cause in which they believed so deeply. We take for granted the freedoms we have today that the first Americans were willing to fight and die for. So on this Fourth of July I wanted to reflect on a few lessons marketing change agents can learn from our founding fathers.

1. Having a clear purpose is unifying: The Declaration of Independence set forth the goal of “dissolving the political bonds” and provided the clarity for why that purpose was just and worth fighting for. Companies that are centered on a “purpose beyond making money” find that they have a compelling and unifying reason for employees and customers to be enthusiastically engaged.

2. Being principled matters: Declaring that all people are entitled to the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was a bold way to state the principles for which the revolution stood. For leaders of change today, standing for something matters. Principles guide actions and actions speak louder than words. People will follow leaders who take a stand for what is right and who guide their decisions by a set of sound principles.

3. Nothing unites a team like being “all in”: Having a common cause to fight for can be unifying. Once the founding fathers signed their names to the document they knew there was no turning back. Failure was not an option. As Benjamin Franklin stated so succinctly, We must hang together or assuredly we shall hang separately.”

Edmund Hillary said, “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” That’s what our founding fathers set out to do and in the process became extraordinary people.

What extraordinary things have you decided to accomplish?