How to successfully combine leadership and customer satisfaction


Further development of the leadership culture


Trade, approx. 350,000 employees

Target group

Executives at all levels in Germany,
starting with the priority area sales


How can we continue to develop the leadership culture with the objective of a better customer orientation (motto: “only satisfied employees ensure satisfied customers”)?


  1. Development of a target vision Leadership 2020
    • Large-group event with a representative mix of executives
    • Discussion and completion of the target vision 2020 in the management board
      (for credibility in the top-down process)
  2. Successive op-down workshops
    To process the leadership target vision, for example the reflection of the participants’ own experiences and the derivation of specific individual measures; specific agreements with the manager after the workshops
  3. Accompanying measures/assistance
    e.g. preparatory meeting impulses to help discuss the leadership performance again and again, deployment of topic-specific mentors for 1 year

Factors for success

  • Top down! The management board needs to deal with the results of the first workshops – their “voice” in the employee newspaper that makes it quite clear: we are standing behind this.
  • Interdisciplinary project group to develop the procedure and the content, with members of the target group from different regions, functions and levels
  • Not too much pressure on the results in such a change process
    The constant “We need quick-wins!” is rather counterproductive in this context… Therefore, a basic understanding of change dynamics in the top decision-makers bodies is necessary so that time for reflection and learning will be granted.
  • Persevering: do not drop this due to new priorities…

Duration of the project

1.5 years

Particular aspects during the course of the project

  • Finding time for change in the ongoing operative business is a challenge. Solution: consistent integration into the standard communication; decentralising the responsibility


  • Employees refer to the formulated claim to leadership and start to demand corresponding behaviour or leeway.
  • Procedures and old rules are increasingly questioned.
  • Increased awareness that the management style is a success factor for customer satisfaction.
  • Considerably more interaction between the managers and employees regarding customer orientation at the point of sale.
  • Employees have a platform to address their ideas and also their difficulties.
  • Managers are challenged more if the results of customer surveys are not satisfactory – at the same time, the leadership aspect is given more emphasis today.