How is it that some leaders seem to instill a spark of creative energy and enthusiasm within nearly everyone around them while others seem to suck the energy out of the room the moment they enter? Those might at first appear to be two leadership extremes and to some degree they are but unfortunately, they’re more common within business than we’d probably like to admit. Leaders in general, but especially those that are leading in Customer Experience roles, are in a challenging position today made even more difficult by the pandemic. And, in this new reality, we are all facing more demands than ever and trying to figure out how best to continue onward or perhaps even start again.
In a 2019 (pre-pandemic) industry report by Forrester Research, they predicted that during 2020 leaders’ attention would move toward adaptability—the ability to understand and anticipate market dynamics. How profound was that considering where we are at this very moment in 2020. And buried within that same report, they also predicted that customer experience professionals would either quantify their business impact and reach new levels of influence or find themselves in a tenuous position. That prediction got even more specific by asserting that one in four CX professionals would lose their jobs this year yet in stark contrast they also said that the number of CX executives would grow by 25%.
That further emphasizes the importance of having CX executives that possess the leadership qualities and characteristics to tackle major challenges—new and unexpected demands with fewer human resources than they may need to accomplish them. That means they must be able to produce more from less thus leaving them with the critical task of leveraging the capacity and capability of those that work for and with them.
This starts during the hiring process. Legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What he meant was that if you do not have the right culture and commitment in place, the strategy won’t matter. So, placing extra emphasis on hiring the right people in the first place is key ensuring your strategy is a success.
What should we be looking for in CX leaders? Of course, they must have the relevant experience, knowledge and skills. But, what other things should we be looking for? According to a blog article by Tenfold, companies with well-executed CX strategies, well-loved by their loyal customers, are those with dedicated CX leaders. To get your CX team in full gear for the customer, you need to have a highly effective customer experience expert at the helm and they should possess the following six traits:
- ACCOUNTABILITY – take charge
- SHARP COMMUNICATION – transform ideas into messages
- EMPATHETIC – listen to employees and customers
- POSITIVE DISPOSITION – essential in performing a role regardless of hierarchy
- EMBRACES EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION – motivation and optimism go hand in hand
- DELEGATION – foster employee engagement by involving them
They further go on to say in their Key Takeaways that delivering great customer experiences is a top-down pursuit. Company leaders should be committed to serving and delighting customers just as much as they expect their workforce to be. CX leaders need to possess a mix of soft skills and domain expertise that enable them to lead organizations toward customer-centric behaviors, despite the strong and often opposing forces to focus on the internal interests of the company instead.
Asking job candidates to provide specific leadership examples of their performance for each of the different traits listed above will give you a good insight as to the level of dedication they have had and will have towards the customer experience, both internally and externally. Personality and soft skills are critical to any organizational culture fit.
Once you have the right people, it’s critical to develop and replicate them. This makes having the traits of a “Multiplying Leader” important in any CX leadership role. Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, in their book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, identify two different types of leaders, Diminishers and Multipliers. Multipliers are leaders who encourage growth and creativity from their workers, while Diminishers are those who hinder and otherwise keep their employees’ productivity at a minimum.
They go on to list the 5 Key Disciplines of Multipliers.
Placing extra emphasis on hiring CX Leaders that possess the traits of a multiplying leader is essential to the success of any CX strategy. This will help ensure stronger continuity within the organization and that effective succession plans are in place. Multiplying leaders amplify the capability and intelligence of their teams to produce better results, while Diminishing leaders drain and hinder them.
CX leaders must possess the ability to build strong cross-functional relationships and buy-in to CX throughout the organization. Having and being focused on the key traits of a Multiplying Leader would ensure a higher level of success towards that goal.
For more information about Multiplying Leaders, here’s a brief audio clip from author Liz Wiseman: CLICK HERE
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