September 9, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 36

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master Business

Leadership & Customer Focused Reality

Why is customer focus not working for leaders?

This is certainly going to be controversial, but I’ll
try to make the point I believe may help leadership
understand that in times where ‘customer-focused
reality’ is central to almost everything we do…that you
must be careful with CFR. You can view the complexity
of the CFR environment graphic at:

In short, here are the points I want to make.

Wrong Customer

If we target the wrong customer because of keeping our
focus on the customer, they’ll lead us off-track.

Often, I see leaders choosing to focus on a particular
customer because of some advantage or angle that
promotes fast-growth or big margins. Following the
wrong customer because they fuel the engine, or provide
large investments can come back to haunt us in the long

Wrong Expectations

The client world is changing so rapidly that
expectations from clients who can choose from many
vendors may create expectations that cause leadership
to make decisions about the present and future which
literally cripple the company, or organization.
Expectations must be considered in light of the
organization's core competence to create and keep its
ideal customer.

Customers Will Drive You Out Of and Into Business You
Can’t Lead

This situation is similar to the ones above, but
slightly different. When you live and breathe in a
customer-focused reality, sometimes your eyes are
distracted from the main thing. We get so focused on
interacting with our customers, even to the extent they
become clients, that they literally begin to create
processes for us that are not sustainable beyond our
capacities. When this occurs, we lose sustainable
competitive advantage, or give it up, for the customer.

The Leadership Remedy?

Identify what you want to occur, versus what the
customer wants.

This is dangerous, which means you have to find
customers that fit your sustainable product and service
package. This may mean you have to let customers go to
competitors, or even encourage them to do so. When
customers become increasingly more expensive to serve,
even though they represent your high value skew, you
may have to innovate your core competence into
different customer-focused realities, rather than
letting good customers dictate that you eventually
become less than profitable. This often occurs in my
view, as maturity in a product line, or business moves
the organization into commodities.

Clearly, leadership is required. That leadership often
must remain innovative to see how core competence and
strategy can be executed in differentiated ways that
keep our organizations from falling into the commodity

We have to keep our eyes on customer-focused reality,
all while we continue to innovate and differentiate

From the desk of Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

P.S.  Please visit my blog  to comment on this and
other articles about leadership.

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