Serve the customer. Every business has that goal. To serve the people who purchase our product or service.
But, your first customer is not the actual customer, it is your employee…your team member.
You might think, “wait a minute, I pay them to serve me and my organization!” And you are right. They are there to serve the greater good of the organization.
However, many employers have an obligation mind-set: the people that work for them have an obligation to serve them because they are receiving income. They are obligated. Consequently, many employees also have an obligation mind-set: they are obligated to do work for their employer because they receive a paycheck. They do something because they have to. They do things reluctantly, passively, and with little passion.
Obligation breeds obligation.
Servant Leaders see employees differently. Many years ago, Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller (Twitter: @HermanMiller, Linkedin.com/company/Herman-Miller) said, they see their employees “as the people they serve.” In fact, he said, “leaders belong to their followers.” (Max DePree, Leading Without Power)
This is the opposite of conventional thinking.
This change in thinking and mind-set affects the whole culture.
Serving breeds serving.
Because they are served by their leaders, employees adopt a service mind-set.
They serve because they have been served. They work and serve in a culture like this because they want to. They do so willfully, happily, and voluntarily. It becomes a natural extension of who they are.
The ultimate recipient of all this service is the real customer.
The customer is served because the leaders have created a culture of serving each other.
When the leaders of an organization serve the employee like they were the customer the actual customer finds an organization that serves in a genuine way.
Customers like that!