The best leaders put customers first, right? Not if you are Richard Branson, J. Willard Marriott, Jim Goodnight, or Stephen Covey. They put employees first.
Take a look at these quotes:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Richard Branson
“Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.” J. Willard Marriott
“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” Jim Goodnight
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Stephen Covey
What these leaders know is that when you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Employees who are respected, appreciated, and are given the chance to grow and thrive will go the extra mile for customers.
At my company, Peak Demand Inc., we have 9 Guiding Principles. The first is, “Creating a culture of respect where employees are safe, they love to come to work, and they are empowered to make decisions for our customers.”
We may not always get it right, but we work hard every day to create and maintain an employee-centric environment. The result is a fun place to work where we respect each other and work hard as a team to satisfy customers.
Take a look at your work environment. What are the written or unwritten priorities? What can you do as a leader to create a more employee-centric environment?
Richard Branson has been incredibly successful as a business leader. His priorities are employees first, customers second, and shareholders third. It seems to work very well for him. He explains that happy employees take care of customers and happy customers purchase more goods and services which keep the shareholders happy.
Branson says, “Effectively, in the end shareholders do well, the customers do better, and [our] staff remains happy.”
If you want to learn more about Richard Branson’s leadership style, read his new book Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography.