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The Importance of Employees "Mirroring" Clients and Customers

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC®) asked its global membership to evaluate the importance of having an employee cadre which resembles the customers and prospects of the organization.

"What we found," comments Alan Weiss, PhD, CEO of SAC, "is that customers feel more comfortable when they see people who look like them and listen to people who clearly understand their concerns, points of view, and perspective.

"It's critical for any organization to demonstrate that its clientele and demographic are valued and represented within the decision making, implementation, and "pubic face" of the firm."

SAC member Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management firm in San Francisco, California He specializes in selection and assessment, executive coaching and emotional intelligence-based leadership development. He offers a few insights:

"As this century evolves, it becomes increasingly important for leaders and executives in organizations to broaden their framework of diversity to include the cultures — both domestically and abroad — with whom they do business. Leaders must also realize there are a variety of ways in which people work (communication styles, negotiation skills, relationship to time and status).

"Consulting psychologists work globally with companies assessing job competencies and on the attitudinal factors that are needed by competent leaders. Leaders need to be open-minded and flexible, with a high degree of emotional intelligence, if they are to be effective.

"The interdependent characteristics of successful global business leaders include self-awareness, flexibility, inquisitiveness, learning agility, tolerance for ambiguity and cognitive complexity. Leadership consultants can help organizations select and develop leaders who possess these requisite competencies."

"There are television shows that have been widely critiqued for not including the natural diversity one would expect to find in its environment," notes Weiss. "Any public institution is no different. Just as "Cheers" and "Friends" were criticized, so was Abercrombie & Fitch for the same seeming indifference to the diversity in their environment. The television shows were fictional, but the real world organizations are obviously not.

"How well is your organization reflecting—"mirroring"—the communities it is depending on for its sustenance?"

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