Six Essentials to Actually Achieve Lasting Success

I am convinced that everyone is a leader.

Some people are given formal leadership titles, while others informally lead without a title. Since leadership skills are applicable in all areas of our lives (and since customer experience success requires both formal and informal leaders at all levels of an organization), let’s explore a few essentials of leadership. Our prime resource for this discussion will be my friend Karl Mecklenburg.

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Some of you will remember Karl as a six-time pro bowl linebacker and a former NFL legend for the Denver Broncos. He also is a well-respected leadership speaker and author.

Years ago, I worked with Karl as he wrote his book The Heart of a Student-Athlete – All Pro Advice for Competitors and their Families.

The book targets adults who want to develop leadership potential in young people and outlines six leadership essentials that are relevant for all ages and life pursuits.

I will share Karl’s leadership insights with a specific focus on my area of expertise – customer experience leadership.

Here’s how Karl defines the key components of leadership:

1) Teamwork – According to Karl, “leadership is the ultimate expression of teamwork.” By effectively guiding groups toward common objectives, you help develop and execute customer solutions that differentiate your personal and company brand.

2) Courage – Karl divides leadership courage into the willingness “to try new things and the ability to be decisive.” Influential customer experience leaders eagerly “test and learn” new products, processes, and technologies to determine customer response. They also make bold moves when they see a solution will likely meet future needs.

3) Honesty and Forgiveness – Karl suggests honesty and forgiveness must start “with self-evaluation and then be applied to others.” World-class customer experience organizations are led (formally and informally) by people who offer and solicit honest feedback from customers, peers, and vendors. They take responsibility for their actions, offer forgiveness, and move forward.

4) Dedication – Karl emphasizes the importance of “hard work, constant learning, and refusing to quit.” Successful customer experience leaders maintain a “growth mindset” – seeing each new experience as a learning opportunity. They understand it’s not where you start but where you finish and that those who persist – triumph.

5) Desire – Consistent with a recent post on establishing a legacy statement, Karl links leadership effectiveness to having “a dream, passion, or mission. The elements are extravagant, long term, and general.” In the context of customer experience, if you lack passion for elevating the lives of those you serve – you should consider a career change. Given the demands of serving others, we must clearly define, be guided by, and rekindle service passion, so we can get through less-than-optimal interactions or setbacks.

6) Goal setting – Besides our dream, purpose, or mission, Karl emphasizes the importance of leading ourselves and others by setting “reasonable, short term and specific goals.”

Whether you are a formal or informal leader:

How might you strengthen teamwork and goal-setting skills?

What can you do to demonstrate and ignite desire, dedication, honesty, and forgiveness?

To learn more about ways to enhance customer experience leadership, please get in touch with me at

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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