Leaders Continually Learn From Those They Serve

We’ve explored the idea of the Success Deception before; how our success can keep us from exploring growth opportunities.

Well, there’s another danger related to that idea. It comes when we stop learning from those we serve.

This happens when we fall into the trap of thinking we’re always wiser than those we lead, and perhaps even our “customers,” if applicable. This may be true, in theory, as we may be in the business of always dispensing wisdom, services, or leadership.

To combat this danger, I keep a sticky-note above my desk that reads “LEARN FROM YOUR CLIENTS!” If that seems “shouty,” it is. A colleague of mine once issued that stern warning to help protect me from myself.

How can this apply to you?

Instead of waiting to see the results of customer surveys, watch the body language and response in the moment from those you serve.

I’m always astounded when a hotel or restaurant manager asks how things were, and ignores an obvious hint that things weren’t just right. I’ll say “well, mostly just fine” with hesitation in my voice, and they’ll reply with “Great! Come again!” When I hear this response, I know there’s no point in going further. But the rare people who dig deeper and ask “what wasn’t just fine?” will learn something, and I bet they do something with that information.

When someone protests a cumbersome procedure or protocol, instead of responding with “we’ve looked at this before, and we’ve always done it this way,” really listen to them. You might learn something.

Disney’s famous FastPass system for holding a place in line started with a front-line employee’s suggestion. When Disney learned that it both increased customer satisfaction AND spending, they went all the way with it. Win-win.

Whenever something just doesn’t feel right — when you get the sense that things aren’t as good as usual — do some asking around and reflecting.

Ask “what can I learn from this?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *