You had to be living on a desert island to have missed the buzz around the publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In. Sandberg’s book addressed women’s leadership issues, but the concept of “leaning in”, of being fully engaged in what you do, of learning, sharing and leading is broadly applicable, and can usefully inform our interactions with customers and clients.
Leaning in affects our customers and clients in a positive way
“Leaning In” is about empowering our customers and clients; delivering the information and expertise that will enable them to make a deal, solve a problem, overcome an obstacle, grow a business. We Lean In when we listen carefully and focus fully on the person in front of us, whether on the phone, in the same room or as the sender of a text or e-mail. We lean in when share our knowledge and experience; how we have applied what we know in similar situations. And, most importantly, we lean in when we lead, not push, our clients and customers to a solution or outcome that is tailored to their needs.
How to apply Lean In to our business or profession
If we, as business owners and professionals, are candid, fair and responsive our clients and customers will reward us with their business. Here are four simple rules to make that happen:
- Return a phone call or e-mail on the day you receive it, even if it’s only to say that you will respond more fully at a later time.
- Never make a customer or client feel stupid.
- Deliver a full and honest appraisal of what you can, and cannot, do.
- Keep your customers and clients fully informed, whether the news is good, bad or ugly. No one likes surprises.
To lean in is to be poised for forward motion; ready to apply our skills and experience to advance our clients’ interests. It’s what I do every day to make things happen for my clients.