The life of a leader in today’s organization is anything but simple.
So much has changed in the workplace that affects employees, and that of course impacts how leaders lead – or how they should lead. Leaders of a few decades ago were more likely to bear responsibility for work teams in a single geography, whose modes of communication were mostly paper-based or phone-based. Looking back, it seems those times must have been much simpler for us – but of course, each era has its challenges.
Today’s leaders are more likely to lead teams with members dispersed across different states or provinces in a single country, or across a multitude of culturally and linguistically diverse geographies. Leaders are also required to help workers navigate the realities of new communication channels – i.e., social media and the strengths and liabilities of those networking capabilities.
In a recent article for Chief Learning Officer titled, “The Changing Face of Leadership,” writer Mark Bashrum asked me how organizations should cultivate front-line leaders who can meet the organization’s expectations.
The key to my response was quite simple: the answer lies in timing and training. Despite the challenges of the virtual and social worlds that define today’s workspaces, leaders can rise to these challenges by focusing on the fundamentals of timing and training.
Timing means that leaders need to help sales and service associates uncover and meet customers’ needs at every step of the buying process. The thinking behind this focus is that every customer builds a sense of his/her relationship with an organization with every interaction. We refer to those opportunities as defining moments, and effective leaders help employees think of every moment as important in shaping a positive customer relationship.
And then there’s training. Front-line leaders should be developed through coaching and customer service training programs that elevate skills from transaction-based client interactions to experience-focused delivery.
In a recent post, I shared how one of our clients worked with AchieveGlobal to change a transaction-focused sales culture in order to build a more service-focused organization. This included developing a leadership training strategy that worked specifically for their organizational needs, and recognizing that training is an on-going process.
So while leaders can learn how to manage virtual teams effectively, and discover ways they can help employees build an understanding of how to navigate the complex world of social media, the fundamental task of leadership lies in understanding the significance of every moment, for every team member, and maintaining a desire to improve the customer experience through a combination of exquisite timing and targeted training.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida