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the November ’05 edition of Leadership Tools Monthly News has arrived
November 14, 2005

The Serving Leader


Providing leadership tools with original content on key leadership topics including:

Business Planning
Leadership Development
Sales Management
Customer Service
Team Building

Delivering leadership strategies with fresh ideas, results-focused tools and resources to assist leaders in achieving THE TRIPLE WIN.

The Triple Win consists of creating and supporting a work environment where:

Win #1 Employees - are positively engaged and feel highly valued.
Win #2 Customers - are consistently "delighted" and remain loyal.
Win #3 Owners/shareholders - realize optimal return on investment with continual improvement quarter-to-quarter and year-over-year.

Remember, the Leadership Tools Monthly News is FREE, your information is always kept PRIVATE and we only publish the newsletter monthly. This ensures that you will receive quality tools and content without becoming overwhelmed with too many emails.

Volume III - November, 2005 Issue
T A B L E   O F   C  O N T E N T S

  1. Lessons-in-Leadership
    • Becoming A Serving Leader - Chosen By Those Who Follow
  2. Meeting for Results
    • The Ultimate SERVICE Station Exercise
  3. The Juice Bar
    • Graduate to Serve
  4. Reader Meter
    • Reader Feedback
  5. Site News
    • Updates - and What's Coming Soon

Lessons In Leadership

Becoming A Serving Leader
Chosen By Those Who Follow

"People don't want to communicate with an organization or a computer. They want to talk to a real, live, responsive, responsible person who will listen and help them get satisfaction"
- Theo Michelson, State Farm Insurance

What is a Serving Leader?

After all, you are the boss - aren't others supposed to serve you?

Unfortunately, this line of thinking is one of the most common and destructive mistakes that leaders make. Too often, and too quickly, leaders resort to using a blunt force approach with their team members in an effort to increase performance.

In other words, when employers aren't happy with an employee's results, the leader uses fear as the main source of motivation.

While you may experience some short-term success using this "Do this, or else!" tactic, you must ask yourself - at what cost?

When a leader resorts to threats of dismissal and unemployment, the employee hears a very loud message that he or she is not highly valued. The employee is made to feel expendable, or even disposable.

As a leader you must ask yourself, would you want to go the extra mile for someone who is so willing to throw you over a bridge? Obviously the answer is a resounding "NO!"

A serving leader who is in touch with her team members will place herself squarely in the employee's shoes before determining the best course of action.

Becoming a Serving Leader entails working through management issues by asking questions that are helpful to both you and the offending employee. For example:

  • What do you think is the problem? Let's talk about what you are experiencing so we can work together to resolve the issue.
  • What do you feel you need in order to be successful? (resources, training, other..)
  • How can I be of assistance? (Provide more structure, One-on-one coaching, regularly inspect what is expected, support, listen, encourage, praise and counsel, etc.)

In contrast, a Self-Serving Leader might simply make one of the following statements out of their own fears and frustration, with the hopes of forcing the employee into compliance:

  • That's not good enough, get it right!
  • What's the problem, do I have to tell you everything?
  • Step up, or step out!
  • For crying out loud, what were you thinking?

Now ask yourself, who would you rather work for?

A leader who genuinely cares about what his employees are experiencing, and who seeks to learn about the challenges that team members face - and who is willing to invest the time and resources necessary in order to overcome hurdles, is a serving leader.

A serving leader is Passionate about results and Com-passionate with employees.

A serving leader is a leader that others will willingly follow, not because they have to - but because they want to.

While a serving leader is always supportive, she can at the same time be firm in her expectations. She can effectively hold employees accountable, but holds herself equally accountable to the standards she applies to her team.

A serving leader serves the employee, the team and the organization equally. As a result, the leader is served well via increased employee loyalty and retention, a higher quality of production and an overall healthier working environment.

Lead to serve, and you will be served extremely well by all parties involved.

"Don't try to tell the customer what he wants.
If you want to be smart, be smart in the shower.
Then get out, go to work and serve the customer!"

- Gene Buckley, Sikorsky Aircraft

Meeting for Results

The Ultimate SERVICE Station Exercise

"If you want to be creative in your company, your career, your life, all it takes is one easy step... the extra one. When you encounter a familiar plan, you just ask one question: What ELSE could we do?"
- Dale Dauten

Interested in taking customer service to a higher level in your business?

Hopefully, your answer was without hesitation, and a resounding "YES!"

In most businesses today, the one single thing that can immediately set you apart from your competitors is the quality of service that you provide to your customers.

Most consumers are even willing to pay a premium in order to ensure a higher quality of service.

As a serving leader, it's your job to teach, coach, and to expect that your employees are delivering the highest levels of customer service.

So how do you create and maintain the ultimate service experience in your workplace? The following depicts a couple unique examples that will help you to identify ideas to super-charge your commitment to quality customer service.

Imagine this small gas station that was recently acquired by a young entrepreneur who was determined to turn the failing business around.

In an effort to breath new life into the business and become known as the best-of-the-best, the gas station of choice, the premier gas provider - the young owner committed himself to become the ultimate SERVICE station in the market.

In very short order he rallied his staff and made certain to do the following with every customer interaction:

  • All staff wore nicely pressed shirts, slacks and appeared well groomed
  • Greeted customer with a warm smile asking, "Thank you so much for visiting us today, how may I serve you?"
  • Engage the customer - find something to praise or positively comment on (the type of car, the style of tie or suit, the beautiful baby or cute puppy in the back seat, etc.
  • Without asking, wash the window, then offer to check the oil and/or fluids.
  • MOVE QUICKLY! Odds are the customer has somewhere else to be, so be highly respectful of his/her time.
  • Thank the customer "It's been my pleasure to serve you today, is there anything else I can offer? Okay then, have a wonderful day, and I hope to see you again soon."
  • Provide the receipt along with an offer to give a sticker to the child and/or a dog biscuit to Rover. (Why do you think Banks do this for their customers in the drive-thru? Two words: Customer Loyalty.)

After reading the above customer service plan, did you notice that nowhere did it mention the actual product the customer drove in to buy? Buying the gasoline becomes almost an afterthought to the customer after receiving such a high-quality customer service experience.

Given the upward price of gas these days, service becomes even more of a strategic tool for business owners in this industry.

As a result of these efforts the business became a major success story. All because the new owner knew precisely what he wanted to sell to his customers. He was committed to selling a quality customer service experience - and in doing so he also sold a lot more gasoline!

In our second example, a young ambitious immigrant got a job as a taxicab driver and quickly decided he would become the most successful taxicab driver in the area.

He was determined to set himself apart from all the others so that eventually he would own his own fleet of town cars, catering to the highly affluent.

These are just a few of the service "extras" he provided to his customers, which quickly built his reputation as a best-in-class service provider:

  • Dressed nicely - collared shirt, blazer, very well groomed.
  • Ensured the vehicle was washed, waxed, always clean on the inside and smelled fresh
  • Provided a nicely folded newspaper and a chocolate mint to every customer.
  • Offered bottled water/soda (kept in a cooler) or hot coffee (kept in a large thermos)
  • Greeted the customer with a warm smile, while taking their bag/opening and closing their car door.
  • Engaged in conversation, but was astute enough to notice if the passenger preferred to concentrate on their work.
  • Offered business cards for convenience so that the customer could call directly anytime he was in need of a ride.

As you might easily imagine, our friendly cabdriver quickly created a solid list of loyal customers. These same customers provided the base of support necessary to help fund the purchase of the former cabdriver's first town car. The beginning of his fleet was born out of his commitment to delivering a solid customer service experience.

Now, the big question is, "How can you do the same in your business?" What level of service must you provide in order to set yourself apart from your competitors?

Serve your customers, and they will always be certain to serve you back.

"The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests, and in doing so will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price."
- Eugene B. Habecker

The Juice Bar

Graduate To Serve

"The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer."
- Peter Drucker

The 2005 commencement address for Stanford University graduation was given by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, and Pixar Animation Studios.

Jobs' speech was short, simple and in my estimation - RIGHT ON THE MARK.

Readers are encouraged to read the Steve Jobs Commencement Address Steve Jobs Commencement Address.

This speech provides wonderful words of inspiration and wisdom for all to enjoy.

"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependant on us - we are dependent on him."
- Unknown

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