Our customers are our lifeblood, so leaders put their needs first. Putting customers first in every decision turns them into promoters who spread the word about our products, which results in long term sustainable growth.
Leaders put the customer first using active listening; ask clarifying questions and reflect by paraphrasing. Empathy is also an important part of a leader’s skillset; it enables them to look at problems from the customer’s perspective, fully appreciating their pain points. Leaders passionately and profoundly understand the customer’s needs and translate that understanding into the best possible customer experience.
Leaders have persistence and a bias for action that achieves measurable results. They do this in a way that actually moves the needle, which is a relevant and measurable result. While others might feel like they’re taking action, working hard, and getting things done, leaders tie their actions to specific measurable results known as OKRs (objectives and key results) through metrics and KPIs. Ultimately, leaders move the needle in a way that benefits the customer, earns trust and creates growth.
To deliver results that improve the customer experience, leaders prioritize work that is both important and urgent, rather than work on everything all at once. Leaders truly understand the difference between urgent and important; "What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important." — Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Achieving meaningful results means delivering something good now, rather than something perfect later. Leaders focus on what needs to be prioritised immediately and plan work that will be delivered later. In other words, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Transparency is an essential part of trust-building; people like to know where they stand. That’s why constructive and candid feedback is an essential part of how leaders communicate; leaders know how to be fair and firm without being a jerk. Leaders give feedback by highlighting an action, resulting consequences, and open up dialogue around what either needs to change or what should remain the same. They do this with a vested interest to help other team members improve and develop, and their team knows it. Leaders also seek feedback from customers to get an unbiased view.
Leaders encourage communication both between and within the teams; even random interactions can stimulate creativity and ideas. Leaders help to develop strong relationships with customers and team members alike, resulting in a great culture and great products.
Building trust also comes through managing expectations; that’s why leaders under-promise and over-deliver. Under-promising allows for room to manoeuvre but still leaves scope to go above and beyond. Mistakes happen, which are a natural part of the creative process; and leaders know that they are actually precious learning experiences.
Leaders cultivate a proactive culture, where people can seek responsibility and take ownership without necessarily being asked. This creates opportunities to delight the customer through team members taking full ownership of their work.
Leaders achieve the best possible benefit from the time invested. Saving time often leads to saving money, either through reducing person-hours or by eliminating frustration. However, rushing out poor quality work only causes us to spend more time dealing with unhappy stakeholders and customers. Leaders know that very often, spending a little more time on getting it right can save time in future.
Often, the best way to improve something is to take things away. Leaders make the complex simple, filter out noise, and distil information to the most basic components. Leaders know that reducing complexity can not only improve the customer experience but can also help us deliver value more quickly.
Instead of copying what other people do with slight variations, leaders use First Principles thinking; they identify the fundamental truths and then reason up from there. First, they identify current assumptions, then they break down the problem into its fundamental principles, and finally, they create the simplest solution from scratch.
It’s ok to disagree. In fact, combining different perspectives promotes creativity, resulting in a better customer experience. Leaders encourage everyone to share their opinions and discuss options.
Leaders consider all points of view, listen deeply to all individuals, then make a decision and choose a direction, usually with limited time and information. Decisions are made without waiting for consensus; waiting for everyone to agree to drives the lowest-common denominator solutions. Not everyone’s point of view will align with a decision, but it’s important that everyone commits fully to the chosen direction, takes ownership, and delivers what was decided.
When a change of direction is needed, leaders enable everyone to feel that they can raise a concern while accepting that the original plan may remain.
There's always more to learn, even if you feel like you fully understand something, so having a hunger for knowledge is important. Leaders are curious and encourage others to be curious by listening and trying to learn from both customers and team members. Leaders dig into things that don’t quite look right or look like they could be done better.
Leaders adopt a Beginner’s Mind to understand the point of view of someone who has limited knowledge or experience. They focus and explore only the most important details fully while understanding that there is no need to explore every aspect of every issue.
Leaders are positive, asking “how can we” instead of saying “we can’t”. They know that it’s very important to consider the unknowns, rather than shutting the door on possibilities.