Vision and values, the “soft side” of business, matter more than the hard business, this is how you inspire. Good service and good manners are how you build trust and confidence, and confidence is among the most important determiners in modern business.

Getting the soft side of business right was among the recommendations made by Sir Terry Leahy, former chief executive of Tesco, a UK-based supermarket chain and the world’s third-largest retailer, at the International Egg Commission’s Annual Marketing and Production Conference. Leahy was the first of the speakers at the four-day event. He said that although consumer demand can change rapidly, by staying close to the consumer, businesses can continue to flourish. He went on to explain the importance of people, pricing and systems and of timing decisions and implementation, saying that to achieve change each individual must work to bring it about, and there must be a clear path for all to follow. 

Advertisement

Leahy also said that competitors can be our best teachers — and that we need to learn more quickly from them than they learn from us. Identify and incorporate their strengths, he said. Never want to be involved in adversarial relationships, particularly with customers. Relationships and how you get along with people are key. 

The UK’s supermarkets have often been criticized for the dominant position in relationship to UK farmers; however, Leahy said that, in a relationship with a retailer, never do anything that is wrong for your business, and you will earn their respect.