How to Be an Authentic Customer Service Leader

Advertising disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

There's a scene in the cult-classic movie, Office Space, where a character named Peter is chided by his boss, Lumbergh, for not including the new cover sheet on his TPS report.

Peter quickly acknowledges his mistake, but Lumbergh continues his lecture. He asks, "Did you see the memo about this?"

Peter points to the memo on his desk, again acknowledges his mistake, and assures his boss there's still time to fix the error. But Lumbergh again bulldozes through Peter's clear understanding and agreement and continues to awkwardly lecture him.

He ends with, "I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo."

This scene really hit home when I saw the movie in 1999. It was uncanny how it resembled my actual work environment at the time. Our vice president even acted suspiciously like Lumbergh!

When I started my own company a few years later, I named it Toister Performance Solutions to incorporate the initials TPS. I never wanted to forget that soul-sucking management style, and vowed to help customer service teams prevent it.

Here's how you can do your part and be an authentic leader.

Customer service leader facilitating a team meeting.

What are the characteristics of authentic leadership?

Let's start by getting a glimpse of an inauthentic leader. Give yourself a treat and watch that brief scene from Office Space where Peter is chided about his TPS report.

Unlike Lumbergh, authentic leaders are perceived as genuine, committed, and passionate. An authentic leader is easy to get behind because you know exactly where they stand.

In The Service Culture Handbook, I profiled how leaders can act authentically as stewards of their organization's customer-focused culture. These leaders do three things in particular:

  1. Model the culture

  2. Use the culture to guide strategy

  3. Communicate the culture

Model the Culture

Authentic customer service leaders walk the talk. They demonstrate the culture in the way they treat people that provides an example for others to follow. 

My first boss, Christie, provided a great example at the retail store where I worked in high school. She was a consistent presence on the sales floor, demonstrating the right way to serve customers. Christie also treated employees with the same respect and kindness she showed to customers. She was quick to praise employees for doing a good job and was always helping us learn how to do even better. 

The way she consistently modeled the right way to do things made it easy for me to follow her lead. 

Use the Culture to Guide Strategy

Authentic leaders make strategic decisions that are aligned with the culture. They make it clear that "culture" isn't a part-time pet project. It's a way of doing business.

Catherine was a customer service leader who used her company's culture to guide every decision. It influenced how she hired employees, trained them, and empowered them. She was guided by the company's culture when setting goals and prioritizing initiatives.

The result of this consistent decision-making was that the strategy always reinforced the culture and made it easy for employees to do the right thing.

Communicate the Culture

Authentic leaders constantly communicate the culture. This helps employees understand that the culture is extremely important, and ensures no one is confused about the right way to act.

Mike was a CEO who communicated the culture at every opportunity. He reinforced company values at all-hands meetings each quarter. He discussed the culture at every executive team meeting, when having regular lunches with different employee groups, and even in informal conversations. 

Mike talked about the company's core values so often that everyone in the company understood them and knew they were important.

Alternative models of authentic leadership

There are a few other popular authentic leadership models that are slightly different than my own research. 

The most popular comes from Bill George, who identified these five traits of authentic leaders in his book, Authentic Leadership:

  1. Pursuing their purpose with passion

  2. Practicing solid values

  3. Leading with their hearts as well as their heads

  4. Establishing connected relationships

  5. Demonstrating self-discipline

I discovered George's research after publishing my own in The Service Culture Handbook. While the components are slightly different, there are a lot of similarities.

Model the Culture

  • Pursuing their purpose with passion

  • Practicing solid values

  • Demonstrating self-discipline

Use the Culture to Guide Strategy

  • Pursuing their purpose with passion

  • Leading with their hearts as well as their heads

  • Demonstrating self-discipline

Communicate the Culture

  • Leading with their hearts as well as their heads

  • Establishing connected relationships

  • Demonstrating self-discipline

The last trait, demonstrating self-discipline, is essential. It takes a tremendous amount of will to consistently stay on course when leading a team, a department, or even an entire organization.

Take Action

This post outlines a framework for authentic leadership based on my research, observations, and experience. You can do a few things to put this into action.


How to Be a Better Customer Service Leader

Advertising disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Imagine you could develop a customer-focused culture.

A culture so powerful that your employees always seem to do the right thing. They encourage each other, proactively solve problems, and constantly look for ways to go the extra mile.

Are you interested?

When I wrote The Service Culture Handbook, I explored how top companies and teams developed service cultures. I looked at data, dug deep into company operations, and talked to experts. 

I also put my email and phone number in the book to encourage people to reach out to me. Over the past couple of years, I've talked to hundreds of customer service leaders about their successes and struggles with building service cultures.

There are no quick fixes.

Leaders who get their employees obsessed with service stayed focused and consistent over a long period of time. Are you willing to be one of the few who puts in the effort?

This guide can help you become a better customer service leader.

Customer service team having a discussion.

What is leadership?

One of the challenges with getting better at leadership is the term "leadership" is ill-defined. Ask 100 people what leadership means and you'll get 100 great answers, but they'll all be different.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary isn't much help here. It defines a leader as "a person who leads."

I recently met a keynote speaker at a National Speakers Association conference. He told me he had been delivering presentations on leadership for over 20 years. Surely, this guy would have a great definition of leadership, right?

Nope.

He stammered incoherently for 5 minutes trying to describe what it means to be a leader, before finally giving up and admitting it's one of those things where "you know it when you see it."

That's not good enough. You can't become a better leader if you don't know exactly what a leader is. 

So here's a simple definition:

A leader is someone who has followers.

This means a leader needs to do two things:

  1. Pick a direction

  2. Get people to follow

Wait, isn't there more to it?

Sure there is! But at its most basic, a leader inspires other people to follow them. So if you want to build a service culture, you must get people to buy-in and follow along.

Step 1: Create a customer service vision

Effective customer service leaders provide employees with crystal clear direction about what they're supposed to be doing and why it is important.

It's amazing how many leaders skip this step.

  • They use generic terms, like "world-class customer service."

  • They create vision statements that sound clunky and inauthentic. (Big mistake.)

  • They only tell employees what not to do.

It's frustrating and confusing for employees when they lack clarity about what they're supposed to be doing, or how to do it. This tweet from Cathy Lynn captures it perfectly.

Great customer service leaders eliminate confusion.

They work with their teams to create a customer service vision. This is a shared definition of outstanding customer service that gets everyone on the same page. It acts as a compass to consistently give employees clarity and point them in the right direction.

Here's an example from Rackspace, a company that provides computer hosting services.

Rackspace cannot promise that hardware won't break, that software won't fail or that Rackspace will always be perfect. What Rackspace can promise is that if something goes wrong Rackspace will rise to the occasion, take action, and help resolve the issue.

A vision like this provides clear direction, even in unprecedented situations.

When Rackspace's phone system went down, a support rep took the initiative to rise to the occasion, and sent a tweet inviting customers to contact him on his personal phone number. Soon other reps followed suit, sharing their own numbers on Twitter. They supported customers this way for four hours before phone service was restored.

This wasn't scripted or trained. Management didn't ask them to do it. The reps didn't even ask permission. They just knew what to do. (You can read the incredible story here.)

Here’s your first moment of truth: Does your organization or team have a customer service vision?

  • If yes, keep reading below.

  • If no, stop reading this post. Use these resources to create a vision.

Step 2: Engage employees to follow the vision

Effective customer service leaders help employees understand the vision and get them to buy-in to it. On customer-focused teams, employees enthusiastically support the vision and use it to guide their daily work.

One of the biggest obstacles is employee engagement. Customer service leaders tell me it's not easy getting their employees to buy-in. Employees are:

  • demotivated

  • inexperienced

  • too experienced (i.e. set in their ways)

  • burned out

  • have toxic personalities (this is a real problem)

Here's an example of what disengagement looks like. 

I was scheduled to deliver a presentation to a room full of 50 people. The screen, projector, and microphone were all set up in the front of the room, and there were enough tables and chairs for 50 people.

There was just one big problem.

A large pillar blocks the view of participants in a hotel conference room.

The people who set up the room had accomplished all of their tasks (put out 50 chairs, etc.), but they didn't have a clear customer-focused vision.

You can hear the rest of that story in this short video.

Just like "leadership," employee engagement is a murky term where 100 people will have 100 great definitions, but they'll all be different. It's pretty difficult to improve something if nobody agrees on what we’re trying to improve.

So here's a simple definition of employee engagement:

An engaged employee is someone who is purposefully contributing to organizational success.

Look closely, and you'll see that this definition aligns with the function of a leader:

  1. A leader must pick a direction. Engaged employees know the direction.

  2. A leader gets people to follow. Engaged employees are committed.

You need to clearly define success in the form of a customer service vision before you engage your employees (see step one, above). If you skipped this step, you’ve already set your team up for confusion.

In 2017, Clio won the ICMI Global Contact Center Award for best contact center culture. Clio provides legal practice management software, and it has a clear customer service vision:

Our goal is to help our customers succeed and realize the full value of our Product. This results in Evangelists and less Churn.

Clio employees understand this vision and are committed to using it when they serve customers. When a customer called looking for a feature Clio didn't provide, the rep avoided the standard, "I'm sorry, we don't have that feature" line that you get from most software companies. He took time to understand the customer's needs and was able to suggest an even better way for the customer to accomplish her goals.

You can test your employee engagement by asking them three engagement assessment questions:

  1. What is the customer service vision?

  2. What does it mean?

  3. How do you personally contribute?

An engaged employee can give clear and consistent answers to those three questions. So before you go any further, here’s your next moment of truth:

Can your employees give clear and consistent answers to the three engagement assessment questions?

  • If yes, keep reading below.

  • If no, stop reading this post. Use this guide to engage your team.

Step 3: Make it easy to follow the vision

Effective customer service leaders make it easy for employees to deliver outstanding customer service. They ensure the decisions they make are consistent. Employee performance is evaluated by how they contribute to the vision.

Employees get demotivated when they feel they aren’t empowered to be great at service.

One support rep shared her frustration with me:

"I have six minutes to solve their problem, which is not enough time to let them vent and help them feel better."

She explained that management tracked how long she spent on each call, and she wasn’t allowed to go over a six minute average. The rep felt she had to be curt with upset customers, or she'd get in trouble for taking too long on her phone calls. It frustrated her because she wanted to provide good service, but she also wanted to keep her job.

Great customer service leaders use the customer service vision to guide every decision. They align their decisions to eliminate unnecessary friction for their employees. For example, MTS Allstream stopped putting call length metrics in front of its reps and asked them to focus on first contact resolution. The result was employees solved more problems on the first call because they weren’t rushing, but handle time did not significantly increase!

It gets much easier for employees to buy-in to the service culture when everything is aligned.

You can see a great example of alignment in action by visiting Shake Shack. It is a fast casual restaurant chain with a clear customer service vision: 

Stand for something good.

Everything Shake Shack does is aligned around this vision, including the way employees are hired, trained, and empowered. The work effectively as a team, but are also given leeway to engage with guests and create a memorable experience.

When I visited Shake Shack's original location in New York City, I encountered friendly, knowledgeable employees who served really good food. I also saw NBC weatherman Al Roker serving burgers!

Al Roker at Shake Shack in New York City.

You can assess your team's alignment by answering these five questions:

  1. Do you set business goals that are aligned with the customer service vision?

  2. Do you hire employees who are passionate about the vision?

  3. Do you train employees to deliver service that fits the vision?

  4. Are employees empowered to provide service aligned with the vision?

  5. Do you reinforce the vision on a daily basis?

Here’s your next moment of truth: Is your leadership aligned around the customer service vision?

  • If yes, keep reading below.


The Final Step: Commitment

Leaders who are truly committed to building a service-culture stay focused over a long period of time. They earnestly implement a customer service vision, work to engage their employees, and make consistently customer-focused decisions.

Many leaders struggle with commitment.

A few years ago, a senior manager I know attended a week-long leadership course. It wasn't cheap. His company spent $10,000 to send him. He was responsible for a business unit in a competitive industry that brought in millions of dollars in revenue every year, so it seemed worth it.

The leader was wildly enthusiastic about the training when he returned to work. He told me with complete conviction that the training had "changed his life."

I followed-up with him six months later and asked him what concepts from the training course he had implemented. This leader had gushed about a life-changing leadership program, so I wanted to know exactly how he had changed as a leader.

He gave me a sheepish look and admitted he had done nothing.

This manager had gotten so busy that he had neglected to spend time thoughtfully implementing what he learned in the course. He was enthusiastic about the training, but he wasn't truly committed.

This short video highlights the difference between enthusiasm and commitment.

It's up to you decide which type of leader you are going to be. Here’s your final moment of truth.

Are you:

  • Merely enthusiastic?

  • Fully committed?


How to Get Promoted into Customer Service Leadership

Getting your first shot at a leadership position can be tough.

A few Customer Service Tip of the Week subscribers have recently asked me for advice on getting promoted. There was a time when a big part of my job was helping people advance in their careers, so I was able to draw upon my own experience. I also reached out to other customer service leaders for some additional perspective.

The advice all comes down to three things that can help you earn that promotion.

A boss shaking hands with a newly promoted employee.

Be a Role Model

You have to demonstrate the ability to deliver exceptional customer service if you want to become a customer service leader.

Not just good, really good. On-brand, front page of the company website good. 

Being a role model involves demonstrating the right way to do things while earning the respect of your peers. Customer service leaders tell me this is a big factor when considering someone for promotion.

Stephanie, a hotel general manager, asks aspiring leaders, "Are you well respected among your peers since you will become their leader?" This is an important consideration because getting a promotion frequently means your coworkers are now your subordinates.

Murphy, a support department supervisor, looks for "Someone who peers gravitate to naturally as a resource." This suggests that coworkers already view you as a leader.

Nate, a customer experience director, echoed this sentiment. Nate told me that he recently promoted a frontline employee. "The one quality that stood above all others was his ability to motivate and inspire his peers."

Do a Gap Analysis

This involves looking at the skills required for the job you want and comparing them to the skills you already have. The difference between the two is your skill gap.

This analysis will help you identify skills you'll need to develop to be a strong candidate for the new position. Be honest in your assessment. The standard should be, "Can I prove I have this skill to an interviewer?"

Michael Pace, a customer service consultant, shared this advice on his blog:

"Find out what are the technical skills your manager does today. Offer to help them next time they need to accomplish a like task. Create a personal development action plan. If you are promoted, you may need to use this skill on day 1."

Many customer service professionals have used training videos on LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com to help develop their skills. For example, there's an entire series of courses devoted to becoming a customer service manager.

One word of caution here.

Any training you do should be used immediately. That's because training is a use it or lose it proposition. If you take a class, but don't put the content to work, you'll quickly forget what you've learned.

Add Value

Many employees make the mistake of asking for a promotion because they think they’ve put in their time.

People get promoted because the hiring manager thinks that employee can add value. A leadership position is not a prize to be won through years of service. It's something that's earned.

Sallie, a customer operations director, looks for people who are "Humble, hungry, and smart." These are people who demonstrate a passion for leadership, and can find ways to make things better.

Murphy described the ideal candidate as someone who "raises solutions to problems" as opposed to just identifying problems. 

From my own experience, people who get promoted have found a way to become indispensable to the hiring manager. Find out what the boss’s goals are and then figure out how to make the boss look good.

Conclusion

Please drop me a line if you follow any of this advice. I'm rooting for you to land that big promotion, but I also want to know what works for you.

And if you do get promoted, here's my advice for new customer service leaders.


Which should come first, leadership or technical skills?

Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

This question came up during a recent conversation with senior training leaders. If you are developing a leader, should you first focus on growing their leadership or their technical skills? 

It's also a challenge that I often hear from Customer Service Tip of the Week subscribers, many of whom are customer service leaders, both experienced and aspiring.

The answer is crystal clear, and it's not even close.

Group of professionals attending a leadership development workshop.

But first, let me share a little about my background and how I've come to see firsthand what works and what doesn't. 

I was the Director of Training and Development for a mid-sized company with 4,200 employees prior to starting my own business. The biggest part of my role was preparing supervisors and managers for promotion, and helping to guide them once they got there. 

Working with hundreds of leaders helped me see what enabled people to be successful in leadership positions.

Today, I'm obsessed with service cultures. The leaders I interviewed and researched for my book, The Service Culture Handbook, came from many industries and backgrounds, but they also had a lot in common in terms of their skillsets.

So back to the question. Should you focus on leadership or technical skills first?

The hands-down answer is technical skills. The answer may surprise you, but I've learned there's good reason why technical skills must come first when developing a leader.

Think of technical skills such as how to run payroll, write a schedule, or evaluate performance as the machine that runs the business. Leadership skills such as building trust, inspiring employees, and giving feedback are the oil that lubricates the machine and helps it run smoothly. There's no question that the machine will run much better with oil (i.e. good leadership), but without a machine you have no business.

Here are some practical examples.

If I had to choose between teaching a manager to run payroll or build trust, I'd first focus on payroll. Employees come to work to get paid (at least in part), and nothing erodes trust faster than a paycheck that's missing or short. 

Things do occasionally go wrong or questions arise when it comes to payroll, which is when building trust is critical for leaders. Knowing technical procedures to resolve those issues provides important context for leaders to develop their trust-building skills.

Vision is another example. There's the technical component, which is actually writing a customer service vision. There's also a leadership component, which is communicating the vision and inspiring employees to follow it. 

There's nothing to inspire people if you don't have the technical know-how to write a good vision in the first place.

The vision writing process I use with my clients includes seeking input and buy-in from employees, which naturally combines both technical and leadership elements. It's the vision creation process itself that provides critical context for leaders to develop and exercise their leadership skills.

Learning of any kind happens best when there's context. When you give leaders technical skills, they establish a very important context to develop their abilities as leaders.

Without those skills, there's no context for leaders to apply any leadership skills they try to learn.


Five Ways Leaders Unwittingly Sabotage Their Teams

The association president decided to make an informal speech to the crowd gathered at the happy hour. He realized the people towards the back couldn't see him, so he grabbed one of the hotel's banquet chairs and stood on it.

Standing on chairs is dangerous. Every year, numerous employees suffer broken arms, legs, ankles, and other serious injuries sustained when they fell off a chair they were standing on at work. 

The president set a poor example with his behavior. When he asked a conference organizer to say a few words after his speech, she hesitated a moment and then reluctantly followed the president's lead and stood on the chair as well.

Leaders should understand employees are paying attention to the way a leader behaves. Here are five examples of leadership behaviors can than undermine your message to the team.

Angry boss yelling at an employee.

Service

Employees look to see how the boss treats customers and even other employees. If the boss treats people poorly, employees will, too.

One customer service leader regularly belittled his employees. He disparaged them for poor service, gossiped about employees to coworkers, and generally acted like a bully if he didn't get his way. Even worse, he shied away from customer interaction, even going so far as to feign important meetings to avoid talking to a customer. Needless to say, employees were scared of the boss and did just enough not to get noticed.

Employees look to their leaders to model outstanding service. As a leader, it's up to you to demonstrate the appropriate behaviors when working with customers or even fellow employees.

 

Communication

Employees tend to understand how important something is by how and when you talk about it.

One restaurant manager rarely talked about service with his employees. He spent most of his time discussing compliance issues such as attendance, following procedures, and adhering to policies. His tone was consistently negative. 

One day, the manager sent a nasty memo to his employees addressing a string of poor Yelp reviews. He criticized employees for their performance and threatened to fire people for continued bad service. The memo was the first time he had communicated anything about service in a long time, and it only served to demotivate employees.

Take a moment to review your own communication. Think of the emails, verbal discussions, and team meetings you had in the past week. What were the most frequent topics? Do you tend to use a tone of encouragement or compliance?

 

Tolerance

Employees will look to their leader to see what is tolerated and what is not.

An employee in one organization routinely generated complaints for poor customer service. Her boss wanted to hold her accountable, but the business unit's vice president overrode the decision. The vice president felt the employees' sales numbers were too valuable to the unit's scorecard, and she didn't want to undermine her unit's successful image by correcting a top producer. This send the clear message that poor service was fine as long as you made your sales numbers look good.

Think about what negative behaviors you allow. Leaders often make excuses to themselves, brushing away minor transgressions and being too minor to worry about. Beware that tolerating something small often sets the stage for even worse performance in the future.

 

Enthusiasm

Employees look to their leader for enthusiasm.

I'll never forget the first boss I ever had, Christi. I was working in a retail clothing store while I was in high school and just starting to learn about customer service. At the end of every day, I noticed how Christi would walk around the store and thank every employee for doing a good job. She always displayed such enthusiasm for working at the store that her employees felt a strong urge to do a great job for her.

Other managers have the opposite effect. They are consistently negative or overly serious, which are usually not ideal attitudes for employees to convey to customers. One executive flat out refused to say "Good morning" to employees as they arrived for work and passed her in the halls. Those managers unconsciously influence employees to act the same way.

Consider what attitudes you display to your employees. Are you enthusiastic? Negative? Serious? Authentic?

 

Decisions

Employees place a lot of weight on the hidden message behind a leader's decisions.

A software company's support team leader told his team that service was a top priority. Yet the leader consistently made decisions designed to save money. The support team was understaffed, undertrained, and lacked some of the tools needed to serve customers at a high level. Employees soon realized that service wasn't a top priority at all. The real priority was short-term cost savings.

A leader at another software company made a completely different set of decisions. He worked with his support team to create a customer service vision, which is a shared definition of outstanding service. He then used that vision to guide other key decisions such as goal setting, hiring, training, procedures, and even his communication as a leader. Support employees in that company quickly realized that service was truly the top priority.

Pay careful attention to your own decisions and how you make them. Your employees are watching and will understand your true priorities by the direction you take.

 

Take Action!

Take a moment to complete a personal inventory of the behaviors you've modeled in the past week. These questions can be a powerful assessment of your performance as a leader.

  • Service: Do you consistently model a strong service culture?
  • Communication: Do you consistently have positive communication about service?
  • Tolerance: Do you tolerate negative or inappropriate behavior?
  • Enthusiasm: Do you regularly display genuine enthusiasm for serving customers?
  • Decisions: Do you use service as a top priority when making decisions?

The results can be eye opening.


Why You Need Danger to Be Great at Service

It was a Monday afternoon, and droves of hikers were ascending San Diego's Cowles Mountain. 

It's one of the most popular hikes in town. You're rewarded with sweeping views of San Diego, the mountains, the ocean, and even Tijuana after a moderately steep 1.5 mile trek.

There are some drawbacks. The trail is dusty and worn from constant use. The beauty at the top is a little marred by the crowds. Loud conversations and even louder music can pierce the serenity. (Seriously, who brings music on a hike?!)

One peak and another 1.25 miles from Cowles stands Pyles. That's where I sat in blissful silence, soaking in the same view.

Fear was the only reason I had the entire trail to myself.

It's this same fear that causes so many customer service leaders to follow the crowd. It feels safe to do what everyone else is doing. 

Their reward is getting stuck on average.

Photo credit: Jeff Toister

Photo credit: Jeff Toister

Fear Leads to Average

The American Customer Satisfaction Index currently stands at 77 on a 0-100 scale.

What does it take to be at 77? Probably a few things:

  • A decent product or service
  • Reasonably competent management
  • A customer service operation that follows standard practices

The challenge is there's nothing distinctive about average. A 77 won't set you apart from the competition. Your company won't be able to leverage the awesome power of word of mouth marketing. 

So why not do more? Why not truly be different?

The answer is fear. In my experience, executives typically make decisions about customer service based on two big fears. 

The first is money. Spending money is understandably scary. It's even scarier when the return is uncertain. While there are a number of ways to calculate the financial impact of customer service, it can be difficult. 

Which leads to the second fear, doing something stupid. Executives repeatedly turn to benchmarks for help making uncertain decisions. The rationale is it's harder to criticize something if everyone else is doing it.

The problem, of course, with following benchmarks is it inevitably leads to average.

 

How Elite Service Leaders Embrace Danger

The best customer service champions take calculated risks.

They aren't reckless. These leaders simply understand that rising above average means doing something different. The wisdom of the crowd will only take you so far.

I heard this consistent theme when I interviewed people for The Service Culture Handbook. Rather than following the crowds, elite service leaders established a clear picture of success and continuously took calculated steps to get there.

Here are just a few examples of things that customer-focused leaders do differently than the average leader:

  • They constantly focus on culture, over a long period of time.
  • They use data to confront tough realities, and find ways to improve.
  • They take time to hire and train people the right way.
  • They invest in making it easier for employees to serve.
  • They develop empathy by taking time to talk directly to customers.

I imagine none of these items seem particularly revolutionary. The tough part is making all of them part of your day as a leader. The average leader merely pays lip service to these actions. The elite leader obsesses over them.

Which brings me back to my hike.

To get to Pyles, you must first hike Cowles. This means your hike will take longer. Some people are content with only going as far as the rest of the crowd, just like in service.

The trail to Pyles is well-marked. There's a sign at the top of Cowles. It's on the large trail map posted at the foot of the Cowles trail. People can see the trail but don't venture farther because they don't see other people doing it, just like in service.

 

Action Item

Set a course. Do something you know is right and stick to it. Here are some ideas if you aren't sure where to start.

It can be scary to go it alone. It's also exhilarating.