The 3 Questions You Need to Ask Employees About Their Leaders

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1.     Feature Article


The 3 Questions You Need to Ask Employees About Their Leaders
By John DiJulius, Chief Revolution Officer

Former Southwest Airlines co-founder, Herb Kelleher was known as a rebel, innovator and a genuine leader who cared about his people. Forbes magazine said, “Kelleher was perhaps the best CEO in America.” Southwest has had 46 years of consecutive profitability in an industry where horrible customer service is the norm, an industry with deplorable employee morale and where turning a profit is next to impossible. Southwest has thousands of employee evangelists rarely seen anywhere else and is one of the most referenced and iconic customer service brands.

Sky And Clouds And Asymmetrical Gray Stripes Good Morning Quotes, The DiJulius Group“Herb created a culture that inspires passionate people to come to work fully awake, fully engaged, firing on all cylinders because they know they are doing epic work,” write Kevin and Jackie Freiberg in the Forbes story. “The reason the people of Southwest Airlines have such a strong affection for Herb Kelleher is pretty simple. First, he was an incredible listener. When you were with Herb, he was 100% all there—totally engaged. He made you feel like you were the most important person in the world at that moment, and to him you were.”

Want to know how well a leader is creating high employee morale? Ask employees to rank their direct leader on the following three questions using a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest):

  1. Does this leader care about the company?
  2. Does this leader care about my success?
  3. Does this leader care about me as a person?

Perception is reality. If the average score from your employees is less than a 4.5 for any of those three questions, you have work to do—and it will be clear in which area.

No One Rises to Low Expectations

I was a horrible student when I was growing up. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and it was recommended that I repeat every grade in elementary school. For whatever reason, my mother wouldn’t allow it. Still, I was a handful for my teachers to deal with.

When I was in fourth grade, my mother attended a parent-teacher conference and when she came home, she lectured me about what my teachers had said. When she was finally done listing everything the teachers complained about, I asked, “Did they say anything nice about me?” My mother paused and said, “They said you always look nice.” Looking back now, I know that wasn’t true. I was a sloppy kid. I had long messy hair, my clothes were ragtag hand-me-downs, and I am pretty sure I only showered once a week.

I am positive my mother made up the compliment, but it had a tremendous impact on me. The next morning getting ready for school, I took longer getting dressed and doing my hair because I felt I had a reputation for “looking nice” that I had to live up to. I can’t imagine what might have happened if I’d been told, “John shows amazing potential in math.”

Never forget, as leaders we are in the human development business.

*Related – Be The Best Decision Your Employees Ever Made

 2.   Interview You Need to Listen to 

One of the best interviews I have heard is How to Run a Be-Rich Business, with the former CMO of Chick-fil-A, David Salyers. If you wonder why everyone uses Chick-fil-A as an example of excellence, this interview will explain why. And it applies to every type of business. Here were just a few of my favorite takeaways:

  • It’s the Service Stupid
  • Be Rich versus Get Rich
  • Stop trying to find great employees, focus on becoming such a great business that great employees find you
  • Find a career that you never want to retire from
  • “We want you to make paychecks more than you have ever thought possible. However, at the end of your career, we want you to be able to say, ‘The least important thing I ever got from Chick-fil-A was my paycheck.’”


3.    Best Practice I Want to Share

One of our core values at The DiJulius Group is Give More. Give more than what is promised and expected. There are very few things that will come back to benefit you or make you feel more fulfilled than giving more. I like to think we do this often. I have a great example of how this approach came back to reward us at a critical time. Several years ago, we started consulting with a company who immediately became one of our highest revenue clients for several years. About three years ago, they fell on tough times and overnight we lost nearly all their business. Lucky for us we were growing and were able to handle that loss in revenue. However because they had been such a great client and loyal to us for many years, we continued working with them at no charge, flying out to still do customer experience training periodically and being a resource.

In mid-March, a time I am sure none of us can forget, COVID-19 exploded and the US was in a quarantine. Every business, including us, was threatened and fearful with uncertainty. Literally the same week quarantine started, the CEO calls me and says, “Our business is tripling, and we need you to help us handle that growth.” Obviously, this could not have come at a better time for our business. Most of all it helped reinforce our Give More core value.


4.    Newest Episode of The Customer Service Revolution Podcast

Episode 12 – This episode with John DiJulius and Dave Murray is part 1 of 2 episodes featuring one of the world’s greatest revolutionaries, Howard Schultz.What makes Schultz unique is not only the amazing business model he built in Starbucks that not only changed the coffee industry, but the fact that millions of companies from every industry have tried to replicate the Starbucks experience in their own business model. Schultz is also a pioneer on how he has taken care of Starbucks employees and how the company obsesses with addressing social issues and social corporate responsibilities.

Ep12, The DiJulius GroupIn this episode learn about:
  • Howard Schultz’s early days
  • How Schultz didn’t ask customers what they wanted; he gave them something they couldn’t live without
  • The vital role that Starbucks plays in our society by being the third-party place outside of work and home life
  • How Starbucks creates a compelling experience which results in them making price irrelevant and has become the brand people cannot live without
  • How Schultz demonstrated Executive Sponsorship by ensuring Starbucks was obsessed with customer experience
  • How to remove personal interpretation with customer platitudes and make it crystal clear, black & white so all employees can execute customer service the same way
  • How Starbucks incredible growth was almost the demise of the company


5.    Resource to Help Take Your Customer Experience to the Next Level

October is the month to Reimagine… Revolutionize, at this year’s Virtual Customer Service Revolution Conference!

Stay tuned for the most amazing lineup of speakers we have EVER had, guaranteed! Announcement coming next week!

Every Thursday in October, we’ll come together virtually from 3pm to 4:30pm Eastern to learn from brand experts and thought leaders on how you can make customer experience your single biggest competitive advantage.

Early bird tickets are now available for a very limited time. Our team has been discussing at length this digital, month-long experience, to bring us all together in totally new ways, and we’re very excited to share that with you. Register your team today! Contact Nicole with any questions about the event or set up a time to chat.

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.