Whether your title is CEO or President, it’s crucial to understand who the most important person is to your success. I’m not talking about some self-serving answer like, “your executive coach”. No,… the person I’m referring to is within your organization.
You’ve reached the top executive spot in your organization because (among other things) you’re intelligent, experienced, have good judgment, and make smart decisions. It’s a combination of skills and traits that’s not easily found.
A savvy CEO surrounds him or herself with the best people he or she can find. It’s important to find people who are smart, bring different perspectives to the table and have skills which complement the CEO’s own skills. They also need good leadership qualities, good executive presence, and the ability to work as a team. But as sharp as each of those executives may be, none of them would qualify as the most valuable person to a CEO.
The clue as to who has the greatest value to the CEO lies with the customer. Clearly the most important people to a company are its customers/clients. No customers = no business. The key question we need to ask is, “Who is the most important person to the customer?” The answer, of course is the person or people they come in contact with – the “front line”
These front-line people are the face of the company and play a major role in the continued growth and success of the organization. In addition, they are the people who are best in tune with what customers like and dislike, are pleased with and frustrated by, and desire in terms of new features, products, and services.
A good CEO may have excellent judgment and make good decisions, but he or she can only do so based on accurate and meaningful insights. The most valuable person to a CEO is the person on the front line.
It is essential that the head of an organization gain valuable insights directly from the people most closely connected to its customers/clients, unfiltered by others in the organization. The CEO has the ability to ask the most relevant questions and follow-on questions. And the CEO is best suited to discern where the next opportunity lies.
Obviously, not every front-line person is a good source of insight. The best insights will come from people who are highly engaged in their jobs and their company. Apathetic or disengaged employees won’t be helpful. Engaged employees will yield the most meaningful insights.
How do you gain these insights as CEO? Walk through the organization and engage people in conversation. Host regular lunches that allow front-line people to share their insights and make a difference. Offer bonuses to your front-line team for providing useful insights and suggestions.
A CEO is often far removed from the customer’s experience. The best way to uncover new opportunities and hone your vision for the future is to get input from the people who know your customers best.