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Leadership Adaptability and Optimism

As of this morning all 50 states have re-opened their economies in some way - and this brings both hope and unique challenges to the service landscape.

As the economy re-opens there have been amazing signs of service, leadership, and innovation fueling the comeback. There is also a sense of trepidation in the marketplace.

Here is some good news - there will be much more familiar than new as we restart. Sure there will be some things that feel different and processes that are challenging, but at the heart of it all will be a feeling of sameness that will be reassuring to many.

As leaders, you are uniquely positioned to influence the lives of those you lead and those you serve - if you keep three themes in mind.

Keep your strategies and tactics rooted in optimism and positivity.

That doesn't mean that you ignore problems or spin positive when not warranted, but it does mean starting with "yes." It means being a champion of new ideas and looking at opportunities with an eye toward solutions rather than fixating on the problems. It can also mean a spirit of forgiveness for mistakes and embracing team members who are coming back to work.

You may have laid off or furloughed team members - and you may have employees who have lost loved ones - they will need a positive path forward to rejoin your workforce.

Some may be scared, others bitter, and some just happy to be back. These responses are normal, but if you are to renew or secure their loyalty, it will take an empathetic leadership approach to succeed.

You will be surprised with the power of optimism. When you root your tactics and strategies in the possible, but frame your point of view with positive outcomes and a can-do spirit, that is infectious. People want to work with people who come at things with a sense of enthusiasm and will be more willing to take on a difficult journey with them.

Adaptability and creativity are attributes that the most success post-coronavirus leaders will possess.

There will be much familiar with our service landscape. Change has always been a part of service and leadership, so we must embrace it (or at least work within it).

I am continuing to urge everyone to stop saying "new normal." We are almost always in state of transformation and this is no different.

This is a time of business acceleration and unprecedented change. But we have been here before. Business changes at the speed of our customer's desires, and this has advanced certain priorities more than others. For example, businesses that fought against remote teams have seen that it can work - and bring productivity and savings to the balance sheet. Organizations have seen that flexibility is possible and some old school processes have been reimagined as a result.

You will find that new solutions are needed everyday - up until two months ago you didn't know that you could construct cashier shields and quickly implement deep sanitizing practices. But you do now. You found a way to get it done, make it work, and then you moved on what was next. Keep doing that as it will serve you well.

But don't do it alone. You likely have a team of talented leaders and associates who can help you. Challenge their creativity and listen to their ideas. Your team will likely have many of the solutions you need and think of things you haven't considered.





Leaders must begin by understanding the dichotomy that will exist between those who jump right back to their "normal" and those who are more uncertain.

The best part about serving customers is the differences you encounter in everyone you meet. I spent much of my life leading teams and serving guests, and that was what kept me coming back every day. That does, however, mean that you may encounter different comfort levels when it comes to reopening our economy.

Some of your customers will be looking for the switch to flip to the "the way it used to be" setting and others will be nervous and unsure about returning to everyday life. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. They are both your customers.

Everyone is talking about the kindness needed when it comes to customers and employees as we start back up. I agree that is of paramount importance, but it has to be a considered kindness. Not everyone is looking for hte same things and everyone is different.

Keep this in mind as you craft service experiences. Think about your customers in segments (or personas) so you can understand them more deeply. Think about their journey in your business from their point of view and then look for challenges and opportunities you can address.

Consider that one person's delight with one way shopping aisles is another person's irritating inconvenience. Looking at your service from the customer's mindset will be most helpful when it comes to identifying potential friction points and keeping them safe.

We are in the middle of the GREAT SERVICE COMEBACK and it will take optimism, creativity, and a customer-centric service philosophy to drive success. This is not only an amazing opportunity to be a part of revitalizing our economy, but to be a leader in your industry.

Keep your strategies and tactics grounded in safety, hospitality, quality, and simplicity - with a healthy splash of optimism - and you will begin building a base of loyalty.

Thank you for joining me in THE GREAT SERVICE COMEBACK.


Tony Johnson, CCXP

Customer Experience Speaker | Author |Trainer | Consultant



Improve Your Customer Service with my Book:

TOGETHER WE SERVE: Four Proven Strategies to Create Winning Experiences for Your Guests and Your Team Click to Purchase on


Tony Johnson is an international speaker and author on the topics of customer service, leadership, and branding. Tony speaks to thousands annually and has also been featured on ABC News. He is available for custom keynotes, consulting, leadership workshops, and employee service training.


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