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The 4 Secrets to Leading Like You Mean It!

It all started when I needed some ice cream.

You know those kind of cravings that you just can’t ignore?  I needed a pint of the most amazing, local small batch ice cream, so off to the market I went.  This is one of my favorite stores to visit as it is a locally owned chain that sells amazing items and delivers amazing service.  They offer items you can’t find anywhere else, have a cheese section that puts most mega chains to shame, and rotate many of their offerings with the seasons.  And to top it all off, I don’t even mind paying a premium to shop there as the service never disappoints.

As I was snagging my pint of cherry and goat cheese gelato it hit me like an ice cream headache.  It was the Leadership that made the magic happen.  Walking down the very aisle in which I was shopping was the owner of the chain – the man whose name was on the front marquee and who starred in the commercials for the business.  He smiled, wished me a great day, and stopped to straighten a bottle of marshmallow fluff before moving on.

And it isn’t just him that I see leading in the store on a daily basis – I see the General Manager, Department Managers, and Employees all walking with purpose and hospitality every time I visit the store.

Leaders spend a lot of time making Leadership harder than it has to be.  Now is the time to stop.  Take a step back and realize that how you lead and where you guide your team is up to you.

It has been my experience that by turning up the volume on a few key moves that you can inspire your teams to deliver the very best in hospitality to your Guests.  I have made the following four things an important part of my daily leadership model and it has helped to inspire the teams I have led to provide ever improving Customer service.

Remember, if you cannot be bothered to lead your teams in a meaningful way, then you have to be willing to accept lackluster service and execution.  You have no hope of providing great service and organizational success if you don’t begin with inspiring Leadership.

BE VISIBLE Leaders who are visible and available have a much higher success rate with delivering on their service promise.  It is a pretty simple formula that many leaders neglect.  Sure your team should perform whether you are there or not, but simply put, your employees stand up straighter and preform better when there is a Leader present.  Make the most important part of your day spending time out with your team and your Guests, and the dividends will be an engaged work force.  The more time you spend with your team, the more muscle memory they form around delivering great experiences.

TREAT YOUR TEAM AS YOU WOULD YOUR CUSTOMERS When you treat your team well, they will treat your Customers well.  It is so confusing when I see Leaders treat their teams poorly then are surprised when they turn around and treat Customers badly.  How you treat your team will translate directly into the service they give.  It is a pretty simple formula, so put some effort in here.  You must also inspire any Leaders who report to you to do the same.  These are not complicated steps, but impactful to be sure.  You have to communicate clearly with your team and make sure that you get to know them.  You have to make sure that you train them to be successful, then refresh those skills regularly.  And you have to treat them with dignity and respect.  This isn’t a 100% indicator that they’ll translate that directly to your Customers, but you have a much better chance than if you treat them badly.

OVER COMMUNICATE LIKE A PRO: One of the chief complaints most Associates have with their Leaders is a lack of communication.  The problem here is that you can communicate in a way that you think is impactful only to hear the same lament.  The solution here is to make sure that you hit on the key points over and over.  Be sure that you distill the mission down into manageable bites and communicate them regularly and consistently (and never neglect the “why”).  Pre-shift huddles are a great way to keep the lines of communication open, as are regular team meetings or focus groups.  Keep in mind that not everyone learns the same way, so you must employ a mix of verbal, visual, and activity based learning – and remember analog versus digital learning.  Some people enjoy a book, others E-Learnings, and still others like a good old fashioned workshop.  Never forget: communication is like brushing your teeth – it is not a one time event and must be repeated multiple times daily.

SET A GREAT EXAMPLE: I was lucky to not cross with many “do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do” type of managers in my career.  I am very lucky because that can get so confusing for the front line.  One of the most impactful ways to inspire sustained change is to lead that change daily.  When it comes to great Guest service, a Leader who delivers great service, as well as preaches it, will get much better success.  I can tell you that when I have gone out and served Guests with passion in full view of my team, it has inspired them to do the same.  It is infectious in the most amazing way and it all starts with Leadership. When I bring my A-Game I can feel the energy and enthusiasm of my team rise and they follow my lead.  Your team will absolutely do the same: Smile, bring that amazing energy, and model The Six Canons of Customer Service!

Leadership is the secret weapon to great Customer service.

You may have read these 4 tips and thought “well those aren’t secrets.”  If so, you are already on to something, so carry on.  If you doubt whether or not there is anything here that folks don’t already know, take a hard look around the next time you are visiting a local business.  Is there a visible Leader in the home improvement store, did the folks at that restaurant seem like they were happy and well treated, or did the Associate at the furniture store seem well informed?

I think after some additional scruity you’ll find that many Leaders are just mailing it in.

Don’t mail it in.

Set yourself apart in this world of lackluster leadership by applying these four secrets and watch your service soar!

Until next time, lead like you mean it and treat every Guest like a cherished friend.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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