Being a good manager and effective leader is not just about making decisions on your own, but about understanding how much decision-making depends on the customer’s behavior.
In this podcast, we talk with Chris McGoff, founder and chairman of The Clearing, who has been helping big brands and the federal government drive change and find success for 30 years. Chris provides a simple visualization of how managers divide their time: customers to the east, peers to the west, boss to the north, and staff and employees to the south.
“Spending your time in each of the four places is not equal. Some places are much more important than the others,” Chris tells us. As a typical manager, we are taught to keep focus on all the aspects, which isn’t wrong, but some areas need more focus than others.
What Chris focuses on is the importance of customers. When you spend time with your peers, boss and staff, without first and foremost spending time getting to understand your customers, you aren’t generating much power, Chris says. The manager who first goes to the customers, communicates with them, understands their problems, and then brings that voice to their boss, staff, and peers creates more powerful conversations.
When you “surrender your own voice, you take on the voice of the customer,” and you can go to your boss, peers, and staff knowing what your customers need, and approach solutions from that space.
Chris states, “Everything is created through value distribution to the East,” so your focus should be on communicating with customers first and regularly, then bringing that knowledge to the other groups in your circle.
The sole reason a business exists is because of the customers, so communication is critical but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As Chris points out, “The coolest part about this is: it’s easy! It’s ancient. There’s nothing new here. You simply go and have a good conversation with people.”