On Friday, I posted a question on Linkedin that I left open for just a few days, and considering it was a holiday weekend, I received a terrific response and some very thoughtful answers. The question was: How do you define client service excellence?
The answers focused squarely on issues such as the importance of mutually agreed upon objectives, meeting and exceeding expectations, excellent documentation and reporting, relationship building, responding quickly, etc. What struck me about the answers wasn't the particulars, but the tendency to describe client service excellence in terms of followership rather than leadership.
That's not a criticism. In fact great followership is an important component of delivering excellent client service. Barbara Kellerman teaches a course at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government called Followership. The course module is described as having two fundamental purposes: to provide a greater theoretical understanding of the critical, indeed equal, role followers play in creating change; and to provide practical pointers on how to play this particular part, the part of follower, wisely and well.
I also found an interesting book by Robert Kelly titled The Power of Followership (Available in our Client Service Titles For You). I especially like the subhead which reads: How to Create Leaders People Want to Follow and Followers Who Lead Themselves. (Sounds like our job in a nutshell, doesn't it?)
So what do you think about followership as framed by Kellerman and Kelly? Would it be fair to say that as PR professionals we tend to describe client service excellence too much on followership terms? If so, could we be better at it if we thought about it differently?