Pathfinder customers and employees are demanding more of senior leaders – Interview with Katherine LaVelle of Accenture

brain

Today’s interview is with Katherine LaVelle, Managing Director and North America Lead for Talent & Organization at Accenture Strategy. Katherine joins me today to talk about a new piece of research (New Rules for Engagement) which is based on interviews with 200 C-suite executives and a survey of more than 11,000 employees and consumers globally and explores the hypothesis that proactively reskilling the C-Suite can lead to both personal and bottom line benefits.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The secrets behind Airbnb’s customer experience – Interview with Joseph Michelli – and is number 324 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Katherine:

  • The research set about to understand what is really driving the C suite and what’s important for them to get right.
  • Their research identified a new ”supergroup” of employees and customer (The Pathfinders) based on their motivations and perception of self-empowerment when dealing with the companies they work for and buy from.
  • The C-suite must work collaboratively with influential, purpose-driven “Pathfinder” customers and employees, a group that values a well-rounded, whole-brain skillset in leaders.
  • There is a need to re-skill the C suite.
  • Nobody is immune from constantly reinventing and updating their skillset.
  • Leaders really have to embrace a balanced leadership approach so that they blend left brain skills and right brain skills.
  • Most leaders have work to do on topics like empathy, self awareness, intuition and relationship building.
  • A full 65% of the C suite population surveyed said that empathy and similar skills is where they are weakest.
  • Only 8% of the population said that they brought a whole brain approach.
  • Accenture identified four different groups of customers/employees from their research: Pathfinders, Agitators, Indifferent and Disenfranchised.
    • Pathfinders represent 31% of customers and employees – they feel that they can challenge companies and value what benefits society.
    • Agitators represent 19% and 15% of customers and employees respectively – they feel that they can challenge companies and but value what benefits themselves.
    • Indifferent represent 30% and 35% of customers and employees respectively – they don’t feel that they can challenge companies but do value what benefits themselves; and
    • Disenfranchised represent 21% and 18% of customers and employees respectively – they don’t feel that they can challenge companies but do value what benefits society.
  • The research found that these groups are not age or gender specific.
  • The Pathfinder group is really, really important because they tend to be the highest performing employee group and they are the customers that are that have the most disposable income and are willing to spend much more on your products.
  • Check out the research infographic and the report.
  • The way to develop these right brain skills is bite off new behaviors and skills piece by piece.
  • Tom Peters popularised the idea of Management By Walking About (MBWA). That would help.
  • Katherine told a story of one client who last year when they had their top 300 executives together asked how many of them have met with a customer in the last week? Or, in the last month? Or, in the last year? They were shocked to find out that most of them had not done anything like that.
  • They also brought in customer service reps who shared some of their stories and they asked who had recently talked to of this group to hear what the customers are saying. Again, they were surprised at the results.
  • A year later things were dramatically different because they had put in a number of different formal initiatives to do exactly that…help leaders talk to customers and customer facing employees or a regular basis.
  • C-suite leaders adopting a whole-brain approach see a positive bottom-line impact and realize on average 22% higher revenue growth and 34% higher profitability growth.
  • Katherine’s punk words: eye-catching and emboldened.
  • The sector that is leading the way and taking more of a punk approach to CX than any other is the consumer retail sector.

About Katherine

Katherine LaVelle is a Managing Director and North America Lead for Talent & Organization at Accenture Strategy. She helps organizations develop and implement workforce transformation programs to improve employee performance and deliver bottom line results.

Check out the report (New Rules for Engagement), say Hi to @AccentureStrat and @Accenture on Twitter and connect with Katherine on LinkedIn here.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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