One of the most important lessons I learned as a young army officer was that it’s more important to give followers what they need than what they want. Yes, it can be good to offer rewards and compliments. But it’s much more critical that followers and others under a leader’s authority receive what they need. And what they need is solid, competent leadership; a realistic understanding of the situation, including opportunities, threats, strengths, AND weaknesses; honest feedback to improve and change for the better; and, finally, resolve and resilience.

However, this philosophy doesn’t just apply to leadership. It is also fundamental to the client relationship. We’ve all heard the bromide to the effect that the “customer is always right.” Well, actually, no! The customer isn’t always right. Imagine going to see a dentist and saying, “I don’t want that cavity filled because it might hurt too much.” We all have to hear and undergo something unpleasant or disruptive at some point, even if we’re the customer. The provider’s job is to give sound advice that is in the client’s best interest, even if the latter doesn’t like to hear it. And that takes leadership, too!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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