To excel, individuals and businesses need to cut through the noise and truly think about their customers…all their customers.
Customer focused leadership – does your organisation have what it takes?
For many years, the importance of leadership and customer focus has been high on the agenda for businesses, with strategies designed to support and strengthen capabilities and customer excellence. However, is it merely corporate-speak? How many organisations realise the full extent of their leadership and customer focus strategies?
In the ever-changing and competitive global environment, it is crucial, more than ever before, for businesses to have a leading-edge – speaking the speak alone is not enough, there must be action. To excel, individuals and businesses need to cut through the noise and truly think about their customers…all their customers. Businesses need to have Customer Focused Leadership.
Customer focused leadership is about understanding who all our customers are, their needs and expectations. In growing their business, many organisations tend to place stronger emphasis on client relationships rather than their internal teams, when really, it’s their people that have the power to create outstanding customer experiences that promote further growth and opportunities. True leadership is understanding team-members’ individual needs and creating an environment that helps them realise their career pathways, nurture a growth-mindset, and harness their skills and knowledge to benefit the team, the organisation and clients.
Three key elements of Customer Focused Leadership are awareness, agility and resilience.
With constant and instant access to information, the pace within work environments continue to increase. Individuals are required to seek, absorb and understand new information within short periods of time, leaving little to no time for reflective thinking. Reflective thinking provides opportunities to critically analyse what is currently happening, what has been done in the past, what was learnt, and how these learnings can be integrated into current practice. It is creating awareness of our actions, knowledge, behaviours and outcomes. It is a dynamic process, that continues to evolve as we gain further knowledge and experiences. When incorporated into our daily lives and practiced consistently, reflective thinking increases our self-understanding and awareness, further developing leadership capabilities.
A strong understanding of self enables you as leaders to effectively engage with and manage your teams. Knowing why you do what you do: your triggers, motivators, behaviours and the way you process information, impacts the environment around you. How often do you conduct a ‘stocktake’ of your actions and their impact? Do you ask yourself ‘What did I do well?’ and ‘What would I do differently next time?’ By pausing and taking time to think critically and reflectively, solutions may come from unanticipated and unexpected sources.
Secondly, as a leader, awareness of how individuals within your team work independently and collaboratively, provides insight on how to best support their needs. Asking your team directly how they would like to be supported is often missed by leaders, however in doing so, we are tailoring to individual requirements, avoiding assumptions and second guessing. In feeling supported, a dynamic and collegiate working environment is promoted, resulting in increased productivity and ultimately business growth.
The ability to adapt and respond to continual internal and external changes, is crucial for organisations. Customer focused leaders need to be flexible and able to anticipate emerging trends and potential challenges that may impact their organisation. Agility demands continuous learning and development for both leaders and team members, to enable them to address these challenges nimbly.
Openness is a key factor in remaining agile. An open leadership mindset influences the culture within a team and the organisation through transparency, strengthening trust and creating a sense of community. Teams where members are encouraged to freely voice their ideas inspires creativity and innovation, encouraging individuals to explore their own potential, leading to heightened skills in responsiveness and being proactive.
Agile workplaces are fast-moving and often have many competing priorities. Agile leaders who are customer focused, provide opportunities for their teams to develop not only technical skills, but also core skills such as time management, conflict resolution and effective listening, promoting collaboration and independent problem solving.
With changing work landscapes, not everything always goes to plan. As an organisation, how do you foster resilience that results in professional and personal growth within your teams. Having the grit and fortitude to bounce back from challenging and adverse situations, provides opportunities for learning. As a customer focused leader, tailoring these learning opportunities to individual capabilities can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and develop resilience. When individuals are empowered through development opportunities, they are better prepared to confront these challenges head on.
Another aspect in building resilience is curiosity. Remaining curious contributes to resilience as it encourages individuals to seek further information and appreciate multiple perspectives. Individuals and organisations who are informed are able to manage and adapt to unexpected changes as they are able to utilise multiple lenses to find solutions to complex problems. In an environment where change is constant, resilience is a key factor in lifting organisational capability through continuous learning and development.
Awareness, agility and resilience are all interlinked and cannot exist in isolation for customer focused leadership to succeed. All three elements are integral to each other, and skills and knowledge gained in one element benefit the others.
In understanding the elements of customer focused leadership and knowing who all your customers are, do you or your organisation need to reassess your leadership capabilities?