3 Questions Your Employees and Customers Will Ask You

(Updated 4/16/18)


If you're a leader, a huge part of your job is to influence others and do so with integrity. The same goes for marketing and sales professionals. It is an imperative skill.

Reading the right books will help you develop that skill.

A great book for anyone in a new leadership, marketing, or sales role is Lou Holtz's book, "Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success." In case you don't know, Lou Holtz is one of the most successful college football coaches of all time and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

In this book, Holtz shares three questions that every person will ask you. If you lead employees and interact with customers, the practical advice here can help you garner trust and be more effective.

Three questions every person will ask you:

  • Can I trust you?

  • Are you committed to excellence?

  • Do you care about me?

He ties these questions to nurturing your self-image. Holtz explains that being able to answer "yes" to each of these questions will build your self-esteem and cause people to gravitate toward you. They'll want to work with you. (Holtz, 143.)

When you lead a team, keep these questions in the back of your mind. In developing leaders, discuss these three questions during coaching sessions and talks. 

Your employees may not ask you these questions directly, but they'll keep these questions in mind when working with you. And you'll be answering these questions indirectly through your words and actions. Furthermore, your customers will also be asking these questions. Your marketing messages, customer service, products and services, and company's actions in general will answer them.

Want to earn the trust, respect, and loyalty of your employees and customers? Figure out how to earn a "yes" to each of these questions.

1) Can I trust you?

As with any relationship, the one you have with your employees is based on trust. It is the foundation of your personal brand. It will expand or limit the potential of your relationship with your team. If you have not earned your team's trust, you have not yet earned the right to lead them in their eyes.

If you "do right" by your people, as Lou Holtz puts it, they'll trust you.  If you trust your employees to do their jobs, they'll trust you in return. The more you try to earn their trust, the more they'll try to earn yours.

The relationship your company has with its customers is based on trust as well. They have to trust that your products and services will deliver on your promises or else they'll go to the competition. In fact, Holtz goes as far as to say that "trust is your best product."

It's worth noting here that Marketing Sherpa conducted a survey of 1,200 US Consumers and found that the top three most trusted advertising channels were print ads, TV ads, and direct mail. 76% of consumers trust direct mail--more than any digital advertising channel.

2)  Are you committed to excellence?

We all want to be a part of a winning team. No one likes the feeling a failure. And no one aspires to be part of a mediocre team.

People want to associate with others who are committed to excellence.

In his book, Lou Holtz says, "You must be willing to give everything you do everything you've got." (Holtz, 152.) He also points out that when you join an organization, you take on certain "obligations and responsibilities." Others are counting on you and you owe them your full effort. You should welcome the opportunity and privilege. 

You must be willing to give everything you do everything you’ve got.
— Lou Holtz

A commitment to excellence draws people in and becomes contagious as people across the organization start emulating the leader's commitment. It becomes a cultural norm and the entire organization benefits. 

Additionally, customers want to buy from companies committed to excellence. They look for this excellence in your products, message, and customer service. Knowing they can trust in your company's commitment to excellence reduces their risk in making a purchase or signing a contract with you.

3) Do you care about me?

Lastly, your employees and customers want to know that you genuinely care about them. People want to know that you see their intrinsic value. Employees don't want to be just someone on your payroll. Customers don't want to be reduced to a customer id.

Show you care by listening to the concerns of your employees and customers. Ask questions and discover the root cause of their problems. Give employees the training and tools they need to do their jobs. Partner with them to overcome challenges and develop a career plan. Understand and solve your customers' challenges. Under-promise and over-deliver on your promises to customers.

Show you care by listening to the concerns of your employees and customers.

Decide to care about others. It's the right thing to do because other people matter. They will respect that and love it at the same time.

If you can answer "yes" to these three questions about yourself, you will be a leader who others will follow. If not, don't worry because you have a starting point from which to improve upon. Work on your opportunity area(s) and you'll grow personally and professionally. You'll be glad you did, as will your employees and customers.

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