We know that the focus and culture of the organisation is created from the attitude, beliefs and assumptions of the leaders. These views and opinions become manifest in their words, actions and deeds which everyone else in the business look to for direction, inspiration and meaning. The underlying leadership perspective has a profound impact on the business performance and results.
An overlooked principle in leadership is Perspective. The perspective of the leadership team is absolutely critical for the creation of what is important in the organisation, what we focus on, why we do it…what we do and how.
Sometimes this perspective can be seen as arrogance. Imagine what the some of the conversations were around the leadership table at organisations like Enron or Tyco. From all accounts the leaders were scheming in an unconscionable manner to raise their earnings and bonuses. No regard for their customers or employees. No regard for the long-term leadership of the business.
Examples for perspective in action
Likewise consider another USA example with Wells Fargo whose leadership imposed sales targets to the extent that it was okay (sort of) to open accounts for customers without their knowledge..!
Over recent years the leaders of Woolworths have made some disastrous decisions. Sounds like arrogance. Leaders ignore feedback from customer and employees, and instead feel more comfortable with internal KPIs. Even when NPS was in decline they said, “we thought the customer was wrong…” Similar effects when they launched Masters as series of decision that cost the group billions of dollars.
The recent Banking Royal Commission has provided us with lots of examples of how the perspective of the leadership has flowed on to create the workplace culture.
In an ABC News article, ANZ chief says many employees ‘dehumanise’ work as ‘they don’t see a customer‘. Shayne Elliot said:
“There have been ethical lapses… 50,000 people come to work every day at ANZ… less than 20 percent of them never see a customer…”
The employees at the ANZ don’t see a customer – what do they see..? Products, budgets, KPIs, plans and projects probably…
The examples are endless. Yet many leadership teams fail to appreciate that their business actually exists for customers.
Businesses exist for customers
Peter Drucker summed this principle up many years ago when he wrote.
“It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for services converts economic resource into wealth…what the business thinks it produces is not of first importance… What the customer thinks he or she is buying, what he or she considers value is decisive – it determines what a business is, what it produces and whether it will prosper.”
The Perspective of the leadership team flows through the organisation, to why you are doing what your do, and how you do it.
The Perspective of the leadership team create the culture within the organisation. Are you focused on delivering value, or hitting targets..?
Are you on an inspiring mission that people can connect with and brings meaning to their work..? Or are you about getting a short term lift in share price or those KPIs set by others..?
What is the perspective of your leadership team..?
On a scale of 0 to 10 how would you rate that this statement describes your leadership perspective..?
“Our leadership team consistently put the focus on the customer and the value we need to deliver for them.”
You can get access to the full Customer Centric Business Self-Assessment here.
There are Five Tenets to the Customer Centric approach to Business. Within these Tenets the First Imperative for Leaders, is Perspective.
Read more about the Five Tenets and the rest of the Nine Imperatives for Leaders here.