“We put the customer first,” How many times have you heard that in supermarket ads? Or read it on a sign posted by the customer service desk? More than once I’d bet.
But how do you know it is true?
If there is parking policy that requires all managers and staff to park in the far end of the lot, and there are spaces near the front door are available for the customers, it might just be true that the customer comes first.
When the CEO arrives a store for a site visit, during a downpour and without his umbrella, he has a choice to make. Slip into one of the spaces close to the front door just this one time? Or drive to the back of the lot, run through the rain and ruin his suit?
Margaret Parkin, a trainer and coach, tells of one new CEO of a large supermarket chain in the United Kingdom facing this choice. It was raining cats and dogs the day he made his first site visit. And he did not have an umbrella, (who knows why, it rains lot in the UK). What would he do?, wondered the employees watching through the store’s front window .
They saw a car drive through the lot and park.
Then a male figure emerged, tie flapping, running a mad 100-yard dash from the back end.
Soaked through and out of breath, the CEO, made it to the front door.
One of the features of some supermarkets in the United Kingdom is they sell clothes. This was one. The CEO was able to buy a new, dry, ill-fitting, suit before he started his tour.
Yes, there were likely some smothered chuckles when he first walked through the door dripping and disheveled. And undeniably, he put the customer first, even when it cost him a suit and some dignity.
Think about what it bought him in return.
Integrity is Essential for Trust, Responsibility and Collaboration
Integrity is one of the essential traits we look for leaders. And it is a value professed by many organizations.
Integrity is being honest, and consistent and without pretense. It is taking responsibility for your actions and feelings. It builds trust.
Whether you are a rising leader or in the c-suite you need trust.
You need trust to build consensus with your team, your colleagues, your board of directors, your customers.
You need trust to develop strong networks inside and outside of the organizations.
Are you Walking the Talk?
To make integrity a valued trait in your organization, that is lived not just spoken about, don’t make rules you can’t enforce. Or won’t hold yourself accountable to.
Are you dashing through the rain? Or slipping into the front space just this once?