The tipping point for customer-centred leadership

In a week where a Chief Brand Officer is elected to take over the helm at the world’s biggest fast-food chain, you have to acknowledge that a leadership tipping point has been reached. A clear sign that leadership needs to be customer-centred. From March, McDonald’s new CEO & President will be ex-brand man, Steve Easterbrook. In his inaugural press release he states,

 "I am honored to lead this great brand, and am committed to working with our franchisees, suppliers and employees to drive forward our strategic business priorities to better serve our customers."

I’m very grateful for that quote as it beautifully summarises the essence of customer-centred leadership as we outline in our white paper True Marketing Leadership. In order for Steve to be successful at McDonald’s  he’s got to keep things simple and the framework below might just provide a useful roadmap for his leadership journey.

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The ‘fuel’ for the journey, for any leader, is INSIGHT. Insight into their values and motivations, those of his team, his business, and of course, his customer.Armed with this unique richness he can then integrate these forces and define an inspiring PURPOSE for himself and the whole organization, engaging people both inside and outside the organization in a spirit of PARTNERSHIP to drive PERFORMANCE for himself and the business.

Our Customer-Centred Leadership Framework has been used successfully with clients looking to lift their leadership capabilities, and will, this year, form the structure and content for International Marketing Leaders Programme in London & Singapore.

While the white paper provides the full narrative on the customer-centred leadership approach, here are a few more light-hearted ways to introduce the essence of our tipping-point philosophy.

 1. Insight

Customer-centred leaders have a driving empathy and curiosity about the lives of their customers and the ways in which their category and brands can service their needs. They build an intuitive sense of customer motivations by maintaining regular, direct connections with them and are always on the look-out for creative new ways to improve their experiences and engagement.

Deeper insight into one’s own values and motivations can also be very inspiring for any leader but the differentiating drive of the customer centred leader comes from the ability to integrate their own motivations to the jobs they can do for their customers and their businesses.

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2. Purpose

Insights need to be translated into an agenda for action and this is where the role of purpose comes in. For any individual, a sense of purpose comes from a commitment to playing an important role in the world, or to fulfilling an exciting vision of the future. There are three important levels at which customer-centred leaders work to define a clear purpose: 1. Brand/Organisation. 2. Team/Functional 3. Personal

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3. Partnership

Having clarified the strategic role the organisation and its brands will play for customers, the next task facing the customer-centred leader is to continue engaging all the relevant stakeholders to make this vision a reality. At the heart of this challenge is the need to build strong partnerships with all people involved including customers, based on a spirit of mutual trust, respect and common purpose.

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4. Performance

No matter how strong one’s purpose or relationships are as a leader, they count for nothing if they don’t end up leading to the delivery of results. On one hand the leader must identify the right blend of customer and brand equity metrics that can help assess the extent to which value is being created for customers and on the other they must find ways to manage their own energy and inspire the energy of those around them in a conscious and positive manner.

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When you bring these four ingredients together, you release a powerful blend of what you are doing functionally with how you are being as a leader of people. And it is this unique insight-driven blend which grows you, your team and your organisation.


Brand Learning: Lifting capabilities to drive customer-centred growth

We work with companies across the world to lift the performance of their teams to drive growth by delivering better value for their customers.


We’re currently supporting senior clients with 1:1 coaching, team coaching and facilitation and broader scale development programmes. For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn

You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Customer-Centred Leadership.

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