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Use external perspectives to shape internal ones

So, why do leaders who connect employees with end-users drive higher performance? One of the reasons is often that employees can be cynical about the messages being delivered by their leaders. In contrast, customers are seen as more credible sources because they provide tangible proof of the impact of their work. Some have called this ‘outsourcing inspiration’.

Why does this work? I believe that people are more influenced by truths that trigger emotions than they are by logic and analysis. This is why, as you saw in the previous chapter, it is so important to try to understand how your key audiences feel. You need to convince both the head and the heart in order to succeed, but you have to think hardest about finding ways to help people see problems and solutions in ways that influence emotions. There will always be barriers to change, but these will only be overcome if people have a real desire so to do. By helping staff to see and feel the customer experience, you help to make tangible that which is often intangible.

One of the biggest problems I often see in companies is management putting a lot of time and effort into their purpose or mission statement only to find that staff feel no connection with it whatsoever. This is more than just a trifling problem. That mission statement will be an expression of your leadership strategy, and often will be a promise to customers. If employees feel little or no connection to the purpose statement, then how on earth are you ever going to deliver your plan? This is often even more true for backroom staff than it is for front-line employees. Front-line staff are seeing every day what customers do and how they feel. For backroom staff, it is often true that they’re not sure at all how what they do connects to those customer moments. They lack the direct contact one needs to truly empathize with customer needs in a way that is more than intellectual.

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