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Evolving Leaders In Customer Service

By Greg Pritchett, Managing Director, Marval


I’m sure you have heard this before: employees quit managers, not companies. Poor management is in fact the number one reason employees leave their companies (even if their exit interview says otherwise); a recent Gallup study has shown that one in two employees resigned due to a failing relationship with their manager.


This is one of the most important reasons many organisations invest in long leadership programmes that run across the organisation – in many cases with debatable results. Despite the supportive and digitalised environment, which actually provides access to more resources and assets than ever before, organisations still struggle to develop their managers and help them evolve into leaders.


Because that’s where the issue really lies. Most companies have managers. Few (fortunate) companies already have leaders; people who can instil, inspire and lead change. Not everyone is a born leader either and many managers have this role because of their work-related skills, commitment and significant industry experience. All good reasons, but not good enough for an organisation looking to bridge the leadership gap. The obvious path is to invest in developing these managers so they can hopefully become leaders; while nurturing great leaders amongst the existing team: younger people who have already demonstrated or can develop leader qualities, and who would make great additions to the management team in the future. Most organisations follow this path indeed.


So why do so many leadership programmes fail? I am going to repeat myself here but it all comes down to culture. Unless a solid corporate culture is injected and repeatedly reinforced across the organisation, managers will remain managers.


Having leaders instead of managers would actually help the organisation improve the customer experience. Leaders have (and share) a clear vision for their team, a vision which integrates a good part of the corporate culture; they are able to inspire confidence and keep people engaged; they are reliable and consistent in their values; they focus on accountability, excellence and continual improvement; and they communicate effectively even under pressing circumstances.


Many of these qualities can be developed and supported by the right technology and well-designed processes. People’s accountability, focus on excellence and continual improvement, are all values that can be supported by smart technology tools. Team engagement and effective communication can be supported by technology too, by promoting collaboration and information sharing. Confidence, reliability and consistency can be developed through processes. And while a vision cannot really be generated by any process or tool (no matter how advanced it is), it can be boosted by a customer-centric culture and alignment with business and operational objectives. Advanced technology and good processes can actually initiate and enhance customer-centric cultures, supporting the team’s vision; and organisations looking to develop their managers into effective leaders should consider extending their investment in technology. This is a digitalised world providing access to more resources and assets than ever before; great technology is here to assist and further corporate leadership programmes.


Quoting Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. Managers will deal with issues reactively (hopefully with success); leaders will proactively define and show the way, instilling change while making sure nobody is left behind. Most teams today have managers, while they need leaders; people who will rise to the challenge, do the right things and empower their teams to take off and fly high. And a cultural shift is necessary to initiate this transformation and foster a corporate environment that enables your most skilled people to progress, bloom and thrive.



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