Businesses need customers; or they will not be in business. Leaders needs followers to be successful as a leader; and yet few leaders understand who the customers of their leadership really are.
In Tom Peters 1982 book, In Search of Excellence, he identified eight factors that were common to organizations that demonstrated the qualities of excellence. Many of his readers discounted the idea that excellence could actually be attributed to a mere eight factors.
Tom Peters followed up on that idea in his 1985 book, A Passion for Excellence, written with Nancy Austin in which he confounded his critics by narrowing the eight factors down to only two. The first of those two essential factors was “stay close to your customer.”
You might ask what leadership has to do with customers and customer service. Substituting the word ‘follower’ for customer and you get the idea that the customers of leaders are their followers. A leader without a follower is a pathetic image, not unlike the mythical character Don Quixote. Leaders are at their best when they have customers, and their success as leaders is dependent on taking good care of those customers.
If you are in the business of running a lemonade stand it is easy to identify your customer as the person who buys your lemonade. Identifying the customer is more complicated when the ultimate customer is the larger community who benefits in many indirect ways from what you do. Keep in mind that corporate profits drive employment, payrolls, taxes, and revenue to smaller businesses that in turn provide services to the corporations and their employees. Corporate profits are the major source of taxes and government revenues paid by those corporations, their employees, and associated parties. And, corporate profits are a primary source of charitable contributions to public benefit organizations. Large corporations are more than evil giants or trading chips for would be gamblers. They are essential participants in the world-wide economy.