How to enhance your career and develop your leadership skills

Having had an issue with a purchase I had made I called the customer helpline. Imagine how impressed I was when I got the following response from the customer service representative: “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll go and find out right away. I will call you back today to tell you what the answer is. And yes, she called back promptly, and the issue was resolved.


Exceptional customer service raises any business above its competitors.  It tends to the exception rather than the rule so when we experience it leaves a lasting impression. So if you want to impress your boss why not review your work through the lens of service.  Ask yourself “how well am I serving my customers and my co-workers?”


Why is service so significant?

It would be nice to know that all businesses had a set approach to customer service and that it was consistent across the business however large or small that might be. Sadly that is not the case. I have seen significant differences in levels of service within the same organisations I have worked for.


I remember being touched by a video of a talk by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. In it he spoke about interviews he had with a number of military personnel who had been awarded medals for saving colleagues in conflict situations at extreme personal risk to themselves. When asked why they had risked their lives for others their answers were consistent: “Because I know that these people would have done exactly the same for me.

The services manage to install this ‘esprit de corps’ – a strong regard for the honour of the group – into all its officers and other ranks.


Sinek drew a parallel with business and the corporate world where no one has to risk their lives for another but where such communal spirit is often sadly lacking.


I remember talking a colleague in my corporate days who asked if I could deal with the caller on the line with a general query. I knew my colleague could have handled it.

I asked her why she was passing it along to me. She told me that her manager didn’t like her dealing with any queries that were not specific to her work. He said it wasn’t what she was paid to do, and it affected the achievement of departmental targets. She was specifically told not to deal with them. Not to be helpful.


She was uncomfortable with this. She had wanted to help and did not like passing the caller to me. She felt it reflected badly on the organisation – and she was right.


That said there are some companies that do customer service exceptionally well. My wife and I were on a cruise where every member of staff from the ship’s captain to the general cleaners all had one shared vision – to make our trip as happy and as memorable as possible. The staff worked very hard and put in long hours. But invariably they were happy and smiling, courteous and helpful.


Whether you work for, or are applying for a job in, a large or a small company what is the secret to making your manager happy and to making you stand out? The following tip provide a range of ideas for providing exceptional service.


1.Appreciate the goals

Understand and appreciate the goals that your supervisor has both for the business and personally. Then do all you can to support them.

Every business or individual should have one thing they want to be known for. Is it the drive or desire to do what they do? Is it to be the best at what they do? Is it to produce the best product or service or the most efficient product or service?

When you understand this then you can see how you can provide the necessary support.

Doing and saying the right thing that supports these aims and ideals – walking the talk – will mean that your boss has increasing confidence in you. Your colleagues will notice you and what you say. You will grow in both confidence and stature.


2. Reliability

Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time. Be there when you are supposed to be. Turn up for work on time or even early. Don’t be late for meetings and keep people waiting. Meet your deadlines. Don’t make excuses.

Reliability creates confidence. People know that you are someone who will do what they say. Rather than raising problems you’ll give honest answers and provide solutions and alternatives.


3. Helpfulness

Be the person who says yes. That doesn’t mean being subservient. It means be helpful. Offer to do jobs. Then do those jobs to the best of your ability. Help out colleagues and be supportive. Thank people who have helped you. Give praise to others.

However, remember that saying yes sometimes means giving a caveat. ‘Yes I’m happy to do that for you – but not today/ this week’. It is important to agree a time frame that is realistic.


4. Positivity

We all like being around happy positive people. Your boss will be no different. Don’t keep complaining to your colleagues or your boss about things. If you aren’t happy in your current job there is a simple answer – find something new and leave.

Remember Dale Carnegie’s “A smile, someone once said, costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”


5. Learning

If you are new to a job start learning and keep learning. Ask questions. Understand what’s going on. Even if you have been in a job for a while don’t think you know everything. Times move on and you need to keep pace with modern approaches and changes. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ is not the answer. Be prepared to look at new and improved.


6. Leading

All of these qualities and attributes add up to leadership. Even junior members of staff can show leadership and demonstrate those skills. Be a leader so that others can follow your example.

There is a story of a Japanese gardener whose duties included raking a gravel drive. He could have done just that. But rather than simply making sure the gravel was evenly spread he created the most intricate patterns. Some might consider his duties menial but he took great pride in doing that job to the very best of his ability.

By doing small things to the best of your ability you’ll find that other opportunities will arise. Glowing testimonials, greater responsibilities or a more senior role.




Marcus Grodentz is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs – visit


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