Successful Cultures Foster Servant Attitudes

February 10, 2018
Paul LaRue

We’ve all been acquainted with the WII-FM attitudes from people in various organizations.

The WII-FM culture (What’s In It For Me?) stems from a lack of leadership to align its people with customer-centric and altruistic ways of assisting those they serve.

Some areas you may have seen this are:

  • The stock clerk who never makes eye contact
  • A doctor who talks more than the patient does
  • The sales rep who is concerned about his or her commission
  • A mechanic at the service desk who ignores the customer in line
  • The bank cashier who shuts down the window just as you approach (it’s break time after all)

These people may say they like to take care of their customers, but deep down their behavior and actions belie what their core value truly is.

Yet truly great people come from great organizations that foster a servant attitude in their entire company.

A servant attitude doesn’t mean the often misaligned connotation of servant; it means having an attitude of “I’m here to service YOU,” the customer, instead. It’s a culture of putting oneself aside to take care of the needs of another throughout the workday. In fact, it’s what we’re paid to do.

It’s the effort to keep the store clean, know your customer, and talk about the products that makes Trader Joe’s stores a favorite among grocers. The staff are eager to find boxes for customers with heavy loads of loose cranberry juice bottles, and take time to comment on the items being purchased, all in a non-pushy, friendly and casual way.

Servant attitudes are Southwest Airline employees empowered to take care of travelers, always be cheerful and humorous, and do everything possible to make a flier comfortable for the ride. It’s that type of environment that has driven them to be one of the most preferred airlines for many years.

One of the best examples of servant attitudes has to be Chick-Fil-A. When employees and managers consistently tells guests “It’s my pleasure,” it’s only a matter of time before that attitude becomes part of the employee’s DNA. There is not a visit that goes by without the “Certainly” or “Thank You” that emanates from the staff in their pursuit of taking care of customers first and having a culture that backs it up.

Whatever your personal or corporate agenda is, nothing can differentiate you towards success and customer loyalty more than aligning your people with a proven servant attitude. From top-to-bottom and side-to-side, an organization that consistently drives this type of culture will not have to worry about what their competitors are doing. And neither will your customers.

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Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and Instigator for Lead Change Group. His background in senior leadership, strategic planning, culture change, and people and organizational development gives him unique insight into the workings of successful organizations. Paul has given speeches and training sessions for many public and private entities and stresses the virtue of a culture that centers around core values and character in leadership.

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