Customer Service Madiba-style

I believe that role models have so much wisdom that we can learn from. There is a unique and dynamic philosophy of service that every South African in tourism can be united by.

Leading like Madiba by Martin Kalungu is the most humbling and inspirational books I have ever read. Although I have followed the great man, I kept being blown away in each chapter by his wisdom and bravery and how right he got the moments of truth that we all grapple with on a daily basis.

It got me wondering if the values and wisdom that united a nation could once again unite us in the way we serve our guests and build the reputation of Brand South Africa.

I will send you 8 of MADIBA’s traits per week for the next 2 weeks of the blog. I would encourage you to read all 8 and then take half an hour per day to brainstorm how you can practise these success habits in dealing with your staff. Then, once they become a habit for you as a leader, expose your staff to them and brainstorm how they could be incorporated into the way they serve your customers.

  1. Every person matters – Madiba had a deep-seated respect for people. We can train ourselves to treat everyone we come across with the utmost respect.
  2. Undivided attention – Each person felt that they were the only person in the room when he met them. Look your guests in the eyes and give them your full attention. Treat them like royalty, as Madiba did. No distractions or rushed interactions.
  3. Every person is gifted – Copy this awesome trait that recognizes that every person has special strengths to bring to the team, linked to Madiba’s belief that every person can change. Inspire people to maximize their talents and celebrate their contributions to the customer experience.
  4. Integrity in the moment of choice – Madiba followed the right and honourable course of action, even when it was difficult and he felt afraid. Build your courage and that of your employees to act with integrity.
  5. Dignity at all times – Madiba observed the cruel fate brought on by humiliation. Madiba’s example encourages us to compete with a sense of dignity. Defeat your opponents without dishonouring them.
  6. Empowering those around us – There are numerous examples of Madiba’s incredible humility in using the power that came with his position and authority. Encourage loyalty in your staff by building their abilities in a nurturing way and allowing them to grow, raising them up. Positional power is a tool abused by weak people who are not true leaders.
  7. Resistance to conformity – Madiba made unexpected decisions throughout his life. We can emulate his example of building new roads and not sticking to the easy path that most would follow. Be a pattern breaker and accept that risk is part of making history and embrace it.
  8. Looking forward – the amazing ability to see the future and put the difficult past behind him is a trait that elevated the aura of Madiba. He shunned the adulation and challenges each of us to dig deep and reach for an inspiring vision. He would urge that his strengths are within the reach of every human soul.

How privileged are we to have had such an awesome role model? Given the challenge of his life circumstances, could we not find that courage within ourselves and strive to use these success habits in the way we treat our staff and our customers?

  1. These success habits are covered in my Tourism Business Book, The Tourism Coach. It has wonderful short chapters on customer service, marketing and self-leadership. Click here to go to the order page.

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