What I want to focus on today is the concept of customer centricity and the related values based leadership. I want to look at what these are and why they’re important. Many of my clients come to me because they want to engage their clients more and they want to know how to lead their team in a way that helps them also engage with the clients in the way that they feel is successful. The reason this is really important is based on how our environment is these days. We’re living in a much more complex environment where people have a lot more information available to them and because of that, they’re a lot more discerning.
Last year I interviewed 7 leaders from customer -centric organizations to find out from them what customer-centricity means to them, why it’s important and to learn best practices and distractions in creating such an organizational culture. So what I found from those interviews that I want to share with you is that without a doubt, all of them stated that if people don’t focus on customer-centricity, there’s a high chance that in today’s environment they will become irrelevant and potentially go out of business.
Now, that sounds pretty scary. But the good thing is that we can do things to create an organizational culture in a brand with our customers that’s going to keep them engaged and keep them coming back. What that requires is engaging our team first.
Our team is, through their behaviors, is the way that we interact with our clients. So there’s kind-of three things that we need to look at here. It’s that we’re providing products and/or services that our customers or clients are looking for, that our systems are set up in a way that are user friendly for them to interact with and that we, in our teams, are engaging with them in ways that are very positive.
The idea here is to build really genuine relationships. So that’s why it’s Important. You might hear of customer centricity through other terms such as customer engagement or customer experience. They’re all really point to the same thing. And that is the customers are at the focus of everything we do. This requires a different style of leadership then the ‘command and control’ that we’re often used to, than the ‘top down’ approach. It requires a much more collaborative form of leadership which really harnesses the energy of people and creates a win/win in that it’s much more fulfilling for our team members. And that creates a win for the organization because they’re more fully engaged.
You may have heard or read that in North America 67 to 70% of the workforce is not engaged, meaning that they’re either neutral or disengaged. So there’s a lot of potential there. If we can only lead in a way that really engages what’s important to those people and what’s important to those people are their values, hence the term “values based leadership”. Creating a customer-centric culture or any culture for that matter, starts with the leaders. Leaders have a large impact. As an organization develops and grows, the dynamic of the organization actually start playing into that quite a bit.
So with leaders, it really starts at them really getting clear for themselves with their own values are and clear on what the organizational values are as well. So often we hear about ‘vision-mission-shared values’ and how import is for an organization to have these things. And a lot of organizations take the effort, make the effort, to establish their vision mission and shared values. Sadly, these are often just things that are used then for marketing and that are posted on the walls.
People are busy and maybe you don’t take it to the next level once they’ve established those three things. The idea here is that those values are based on what’s important to the organization and what the leaders know about the organization, and that the leaders’ values are aligned with those. Then they’re taking those & acting on them.
Currently I’m taking my masters on leadership from Royal Roads University. And although I work with my clients on values for years (you know, for 16 years I’ve been coaching) what was different for me and going through that process and my leadership program was that not only did we identified the values, explore what is meaningful to them and how they tied in with their beliefs. But we also looked at what behaviors do we demonstrate that exemplified those values. Sometimes we have values, but we don’t actually act on them. And so that’s the same thing when an organization has published shared values. They may want to demonstrate those but maybe are not behaving in a fashion that demonstrates that. So once the leaders are clear on that and start demonstrating those behaviors, as Kouzes and Posner would tell us, they’re actually modeling the way.
Another author that I’ve just read is Richard Barrett. The book is called The Values Driven Organization. He talks about ‘values driven organizations’ being the most successful organizations on the planet because when those leaders are modeling the values and engaging their people based on values what happens is that there’s an alignment. So when they’re modeling it, walking their talk, they’re people are going to trust them more and want to be looking at how they can align as well.
There’s so much more to this and I’ll be talking about that more later. What I want to leave you with right now is this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 2 resources on my website SparkSuccess.com. One is a free white paper download which is based on the interviews that I had with those customers-centric leaders. The second is a quiz. When you take it, it will give you an idea of where you stand with values based leadership, and also how your organization is doing with customer-centric-culture creation.
I would love to have a conversation with you and hear your thoughts on these topics. An easy way you can do that is reach out to me on Facebook messenger and we can have a dialogue soon!