Do You Have Disciples?

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." That was the command of the master, Jesus of Nazareth when he walked the face of this earth to two fishermen, Simon and his brother, Andrew.

The scripture says: "At once they left their nets and followed him." The question then is: why would two fishermen abandon their professional calling to follow a preacher who had no home, property or assets?

These fishermen were to form the fist two of the 12 disciples of the Lord Jesus. He chose, trained, and gave them authority and power, and challenged them to go and preach the good news of the kingdom of God. In less than three years, what was originally a team of timid and weary persons from diverse professions was transformed into a formidable team of bold and articulate men, who were fiercely loyal, spread the gospel message, teaching, healing, encouraging and touching the lives of the people with signs and wonders.

They were the 12 disciples whose name millions of Christians bear today. They learnt at the feet of the master. Where Jesus went, they went. Where He slept they slept. What He ate, they ate. The master was virtually inseparable from his disciples. Jesus had a message for humanity. He knew Himself, where He came from, and where He was going. He had a vision, and needed trained followers to help him amplify His gospel message.

One thing is clear. Before Jesus chose his disciples, He was already proclaiming His message, walking through the lands of Samaria, Judea, and Galilee, no cars, no telephone, no computers. Within three years, the Lord literally took an entire race by storm, transforming their beliefs and value systems. And great crowds followed Him.

And so dear professional who is at the top of the corporate ladder, the question is: What is your corporate message that explains who you are, your vision and where you are going, how you work, your beliefs, work ethics, processes, and more? Are you proclaiming it? Are you grooming successors, teaching and mentoring? Do you have disciples? Remember, a combination of these three has the potential of transforming your business into big time via creating a proper understanding and appreciation of your business amongst your employees, customers,clients, partners, retailers, suppliers, regulators and other publics.

The ultimate is that great crowds will follow you and your business because they know you. The challenge is for you to turn your workforce and other publics into your disciples (that is if you are worth following) by changing your business orientation, and entering their lives by developing periodic corporate messages that are not necessarily promotional; but messages couched in words that have spirit and life and geared to transform the fortune of your publics and take them to their promised land. Do you have disciples?

The second step is to proclaim your corporate message at all times - in ways that connect with your audience. And the third is to assemble and train a crop of corporate disciples that will step out into the marketplace and amplify your messages and work ethics. That is when you will be positioned to do signs and wonders with your brands and products. So who is a disciple?

A disciple is a follower, someone who has a teachable spirit and is willing to learn at the feet of the master. Someone who has been taught, is very loyal to his/her master, and is ever willing to do the master's bidding. A disciple is a follower of someone s/he believes in.

The person being followed is a motivational leader who chooses to train and send the disciples to go and preach the good news and do his work. For corporate managers, the good news should be: your vision, corporate culture, values and ethics, the character of your brands, how you make them, the way you do business, your corporate social responsibility, your strengths and unique selling points, your human resources, how you recruit and train them, how you care for your staff and customers, and so many others. There is so much you can talk about.

Is the corporate world doing this? Not really. There is little corporate message, and hardly can any corporate body boast of corporate disciples. There is so much concentration on advertising that hardly passes on detailed messages, public functions of product launches, sales promotions, events management, annual general meetings, facts behind the figures meet at the Stock Exchange, long service awards, end of your socials, and refuting allegations of bad press.

In all these, hardly are the consuming and other publics and even employees carried along with detailed information about the dynamics, direction, headaches, and triumphs of the corporate body. The best the corporate public gets is akin to the SMS (short message service) messages mobile phone users send to each other.

There is a vast difference between a detailed discussion between two mobile phone users and SMS messages between them. The latter is cheaper but contains less information.

At best, many companies maintain a public relations department with a manager in charge. The banks call it Corporate Affairs and depending on the orientation of the CEO, managers of such departments have limited scope and functions besides organizing corporate functions and socials. Some are even reduced to glorified errand boys and girls. Yet the company's public are watching and wondering what is happening behind those corporate walls. How many companies can beat their chest and say my customers know me, trust me, and they follow me, not just because of my excellent brands and marketing thrust, because they know what we stand for, they know my people and how we operate?

Why are publishers of news and magazines falsifying their circulation figures? They think by inflating it, they can pull in more adverts. Not so. Readers and advertisers are no longer fooled by bogus claims. Why don't you go beyond advertising and sales promotion and begin to transform your employees associates, suppliers, consultants, partners, regulators and customers into your corporate disciples? Teach them about your corporate character, ways, work process and methods. Do it with authority, humility, sincerity and show them you care. You will see great crowds following you.

Eric Okeke is a motivational speaker, business writer, copywriter, and corporate storyteller. He is one of Nigeria's most experienced financial journalists. His strenghts are writing, speaking, humor, publicity, and corporate storytelling. His email: [email protected]

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