The 4 energies of a customer-centred leader

Peter Drucker once wrote that 'your first and foremost job as a leader is to manage your own energy and help manage the energy of those around you'. Easier said than done! The intense pressure people typically find themselves working under these days can make it difficult enough to maintain one’s own energy all of the time, let alone that of others.

Yet there is so much truth in Drucker’s assertion, so what can leaders do to meet this challenge in practice?

Four energies of a customer-centred leader

The first step is to recognize that there are different types of energy, each of which are managed in different ways. In his excellent book Leadership Plain and Simple, leadership coach Steve Radcliffe describes four energies:

  • Intellectual Energy: The energy of thinking, reason and rationality that drives our curiosity, criticism, analysis and planning.
  • Emotional Energy: The energy of human connection and relationships that helps us feel valued, included, cared for and listened to.
  • Spirit Energy: The energy of passion, meaning and optimism that comes from being connected to our core values and a future we believe in.
  • Physical Energy: The energy of fitness and health that helps drive action and our ability to make things happen and get things done.

These energies are all inter-related – if any one of them is under pressure for some reason, it is likely they will all begin to suffer. It’s critical then for any leader to work out routes to look after themselves and their teams in ways which work for them. Carving out time in the diary to think, making efforts to build bigger relationships with people, generating a clear and motivating purpose for one’s work and getting enough sleep and exercise are all likely to be important parts of this equation.

Interestingly though, for marketing leaders, I would add a further dimension to this thinking. Customers can be an extremely powerful source of energy for any business. There is little more rewarding for employees than seeing and believing that all the work they are doing is helping to provide products and services that are really appreciated by the people who are buying them. At a rational level too, if a business wants to grow in the longer term, the only sustainable route to do so is to find ways to create better value for its customers. So marketers have a vital role to play in inspiring the hearts, minds and spirits of people in their organisations by explaining and demonstrating the ways in which they can touch and add value to the lives of their customers.

At the same time though, marketing leaders will only be able to play this role if they are maintaining their own energies in a customer-centred way. Are they meeting customers face-to-face regularly to obtain a strong intuitive sense of what they are looking for and caring about?  Are they being rigorous and strategic in the analysis of customer data to ensure they are focusing on the things that really matter? Are they lifting their thinking to see how they can engage customers and employees alike by linking their brands to big ideas that have authenticity, meaning and relevance? And perhaps most important of all, are they managing their time in such a way that all of these tasks are handled as priorities and don’t get lost in the maelstrom of everyday operational activities involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

Why not spend a few minutes now and think about where you draw your own energy from.

Are there things you are doing which you need to dial up and dial down? And how much inspiration are you drawing from your own customers in the way you’re working currently? The opportunities to strengthen your motivation, knowledge, resilience and impact by becoming more customer-centred could be very exciting.

I’d be really interested to hear any insights or lessons you’ve picked up from your own experiences in this area. Please feel free to share your comments below or contact me directly via @AndyBird_BL or

Originally posted on the Marketing Society blog.


For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s customer-centred leadership capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly @AndyBird_BL. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Customer-Centred Leadership.

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