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How To Get Fired by Your Constituents

Updated April 05, 2022
Professional headshot of Kari O'Neill

Kari O'Neill

SDSU Extension Community Vitality Program Manager

Young couple discussing a concern with a distressed small business team member.
Courtesy: Canva

We hear a lot these days about the way marketing has changed for companies and businesses. The personal service they offer today’s customer has become what sets many businesses apart from their competition.

What about the way marketing has changed for leaders of a community or organization? I think there are definite similarities to for-profit businesses. While some leaders may joke about wanting to be fired to get away from all the extra responsibilities, leaders genuinely have the heart to serve and really want to succeed in attracting and retaining their customers or constituents.

For both business and community leaders, one thing is true – without customers, you wouldn’t have a job. When your customer deflects to a competitor, they have, in effect, fired you. Let’s examine some common reasons for that deflection and what you can do to keep your people happy.

    Common Reasons for Deflection

    Poor response.
    If it takes you too long to get back to a person with a concern, the word usually spreads. Just responding to say you’ll reach out soon is better than no response. Of course, a constituent’s idea of too long will tend to be much shorter than your idea of too long!

    Unfriendly people on the front line.
    If constituents must go through an unhappy, uncaring person before they can speak with you, they may give up quickly. They may also be unhappy and uncaring by the time they actually speak to you. The first rule of every frontline worker should be “smile!”

    Over-promising.
    Constituents are like elephants – they never forget. If you over-promise and under-deliver, you lose.

    Poor professional image.
    Constituents want their leaders to be genuine, so if it’s not your style to dress in a suit, that’s fine. However, an image of quality service is reflected through clean appearance, positive language and actions.

    Poor excuses about why you “can’t.”
    People come to you as their leader with ideas, input, concerns and requests. They want help with their situation – they don’t want to hear about yours.

    "Today’s leaders need to be willing to keep up with technology, be as transparent as possible with business and communicate well to different generations of constituents."

    — Kari O'Neill, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Program Manager

    In Summary

    Marketing yourself as a leader can be tricky. You know you can’t please everyone all the time. Today’s leaders need to be willing to keep up with technology, be as transparent as possible with business and communicate well to different generations of constituents. While there are changes in how leaders operate today, there are still some basic principles to live by in service to people.

    References