I've been working my way through all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which has had me thinking a lot about superheroes lately. I read one commentary that noted that one of the reasons why the Marvel characters are so relatable, is because they are normal people thrust into extraordinary circumstances.
While that's often a feel-good story, that's where many people get stuck: They wait for circumstances that compel them to act. As a result, it prevents them from growing the kind of businesses and making the kind of impact they are capable of.
Don't wait for the right circumstances to present themselves to you, that force you into action. Be bold enough to seize and create the opportunities that will bring a greater than average return.
Getting the results you desire doesn't come as a result of being a reluctant superhero, that only uses their superpowers when faced with no other option. It's about being the proactive superhero that sees a problem or a challenge that needs to be solved, and goes out and finds a way to fix it.
That slight change in approach is the difference between a lot of iconic leaders and self-made billionaires we see and study today such as Sara Blakely, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos, and those who struggle to achieve mediocre results.
Empowering yourself and everyone on your team to take the bold actions to deliver the kind of experiences that delight your customers and make them feel like they belong.
As a leader, you shouldn't be the only superhero on your team. You need an army of superheroes that show up everyday with their capes on ready to do whatever it takes to win the hearts and minds of your customers.
When you do, your entire company will be positioned and equipped to help them achieve the transformation they seek to achieve, in a manner they can't easily find elsewhere.
That type of result can come from one small yet remarkable interaction with someone on your team who is empowered to take the time to go above and beyond to put a smile on your customers' faces.
And it can even come from another team member who doesn't have direct interaction with customers but acts on an opportunity to improve an aspect of the company culture or internal process that will improve your customer experience.
Here's how you unleash your own team of superheroes.
1. Create a culture obsessed with serving your customers.
At their core, superheroes have a calling for doing good. They have an internal moral compass that compels them to want to serve others.
Instill that same sense of calling with the people on your team. Start by giving everyone on your team a number of opportunities to interact directly with your customers, to understand more about their plight. You could also share customer stories on a regular basis that highlight how your product and service impacts their lives for the better.
The more you and your team are able to see and feel a direct connection between the work you do, and the impact it has on your customers' lives, the easier it becomes to keep serving your customers top of mind.
2. Empower your team to make decisions.
Superheroes don't have to go and ask for permission to unleash their superpowers. When they see something that needs to be done, they just do it.
Your team needs to be equipped, empowered, and trained on how to do the same. Think about how you can give your team both the leeway and training to provide the judgement needed to know how to seize opportunities to win customers over, in a manner that works for both the customer and your business.
Team members at The Ritz-Carlton have $2,000 per guest per day to use at their discretion to use to delight a customer or to fix a situation that didn't quite go as planned. A manager at Whole Foods told me their staff also have a discretionary budget that allows them to address customer issues on the spot as well.
3. Reward bold actions.
Superheroes are bold. They are decisive. They take swift and calculated action. Your team needs to be ready to do the same. But many people are reluctant to take bold action, for fear of what will happen if things don't pan out the way they intend, or if it is a muscle they just aren't used to using on a regular basis.
To help them get more comfortable, start rewarding the action, independent of the results that come with them. In time, your team will get more comfortable being proactive about ways they can solve your customers' problems like none other.