You know the kind: the retail shop whose staff doesn’t acknowledge you when you walk in; the tech company or store whose customer service department requires your claim have three points and a conclusion, then sends you on a scavenger hunt before your issue gets addressed (not necessarily resolved).
You’ve had your fair share of the restaurant whose waiter snubs you all evening, then becomes miraculously polite close to check time in order to secure a nice tip.
Or worse, you’ve had to swallow snooty treatment at some five-star hotel or resort, yet you were still expected to pay top dollar for one-star service.
Ever wonder why the employees act that way, or how such sloppy behavior is possible in our capitalistic society?
All you have to do is bark up the tree. As you’ve no doubt learned the hard way from stinky businesses, a company’s culture is a reflection of its leader at the top.
So what’s your business telling people about you?
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
Dr. John C. Maxwell’s maxim above is a solid refrain in his book, Developing the Leader Within You, which also distills the definition of leadership to one word: influence.
People follow leaders through influence, for good or ill. Humans are a relational race, and we interrelate by mimicking each other. It’s so essential to our learning, it’s subconscious.
It’s how we learn a new language and customs, both as children and adults. It’s how we groped for our identity during those pressured years of middle and high school, and how we mature through mentorship.
It’s how social culture molds people of all ages through politics, art, and entertainment. It’s even how spouses come to finish each other’s sentences.
So it’s no surprise employees mimic what leaders do, and more importantly, what they don’t do.
If a leader doesn’t enforce a good habit, the employees won’t either.
This leadership loophole spawns stinky businesses.
If a leader doesn’t focus on courtesy or quality results, his followers take the liberty of neglecting them too, despite having the freedom to pursue those objectives themselves.
Of course, just saying the right principles and having them in print profits nothing. Action moves people to action.
In fact, when a leader says something and does the opposite, he negates his integrity and his followers lose respect for him. They then despise him, and in worst cases, mimic his dishonor, much to the customer’s detriment.
In leading your business, your greatest power is your actions.
When your peers and followers see your convictions in motion, you inspire them to examine themselves and be better people.
Couple positive influence with praise, and your followers will grow loyal, producing only their best results because they know you’ll do right by them.
They’ll in turn treat your customers (or clients) well because you’ve instilled in them your appreciation for people and quality results.
A business that treats its customers right has a leader that treats his team right.
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Flickr photo by Jeremy Jenum.