How do leaders create sustained growth and make an obvious improvement to the bottom line of their company? Is it really possible for one (or a few) people to make a major difference in the results of a big organization? The answer, of course, is ‘yes’—if they take the right approach.
When leaders engage with their employees and gain their trust, the employees in turn provide a positive experience for the customers. Delighted by their experience, customers come back. They not only come back, they tell their friends who buy products and services. The bottom line grows and, if practiced consistently over time, the company has long-term, sustained growth.
Michael Hyatt describes how influential leaders improve customer focus and make a major difference:
Real leaders are contagious. People “catch” what they have. People are drawn to their vision and their values. They are able to gather a following and move people to act.
In a recent post The Secret to Sustained Business Growth, Bill Zipp sheds additional light on what can happen when leaders are not engaged in building a customer-focused team:
After an initial experience with the company, new customers never came back and didn’t recommend them to family and friends. The reason sales didn’t scale was simple: their encounter with his employees was so lackluster, they concluded, “Why bother?”
The employees at this company were good people, but the environment was toxic. Inexperienced leaders, under pressure to perform, managed their direct reports through manipulation and intimidation. Praise was as rare as a sunny day in Seattle. Distrust and disrespect was rampant.
He goes on to describe the solution—the Leadership-Profit Chain—a term coined by the Ken Blanchard Companies for the link their researchers found between leaders, employees, customers and profit.
An example of a leader who “gets it” is Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter. After his company’s web site crashed during Super Bowl 2012, he didn’t try to shift the blame, he took full responsibility. An article in Investor’s Business Daily describes the effect his decisions have on his company:
By acknowledging his mistakes, Schnatter builds trust. He says employees are more apt to take prudent risks and admit their errors when the company’s leaders do the same.
As a leader in your organization, what are you doing to engage employees? How are you turning customers into ‘raving fans?’ What are you doing to build trust throughout your organization? These are important questions that deserve your time and attention.
The Product Management Perspective: Trust is key to effectively working with the teams you depend on for your product’s success. The time you spend understanding your markets and engaging with customers will pay dividends over time. When you live and lead in such a way that people trust your decisions and direction, your influence will spread and your products will succeed.