CX Leaders often have a leadership challenge. They are asked to make widespread impact on an organisation noticeable by its customers in a way that drives increased short term ROI and lifetime value. However, most often they do not given the authority to match the accountability. As a result, influence is the main mechanism for CX leaders to get thigs done across the organisation.
Without influence, CX leaders are left to work in their silo or create tools (and collateral (e.g. personas journey maps, etc) that the rest of the organisation has little interest in. Over time, their efforts come to be viewed as high cost, low benefit programs to the overall success of the organization. AI will make the tools and methods of CX more insightful, practical and easier to insert into complex processes BUT the value will not be realised if appropriate influence has not been applied in the first instance. Executives looking to make a name for themselves will be aiming to lead the direction of AI efforts and claim credit for AI gold while deflecting criticism for AI mishaps. AI needs the CX perspective to be deployed ethically. Influence is at the heart of past and future CX success.
In this light, a 2019 Harvard Business Review post, caught my eye, “How to Figure Out How Much Influence You Have at Work” by Maxim Sytch. He suggests doing a power audit of your self (caveat: be honest!):
- Identify your top 10 collaborators, whether internal or external, crucial for your productivity.
- Rate each contact on a scale of 1 to 10, considering both the value they provide and the challenge of finding a replacement. Assess their contributions in various aspects like career guidance, emotional support, daily assistance, information sharing, and access to resources.
- Flip the perspective: Evaluate yourself with a score from others’ viewpoints. Gauge the value you bring and the level of irreplaceability.
He lists things which should sound the alarm bells:
- Limited Reach: examine whether all your contacts belong to a single team, function, product unit, or office building. This concentration may suggest limited value generation beyond basic job requirements.
- Power imbalance: assess if your contacts contribute more value than you reciprocate, as sustained imbalances in dependence may indicate a power disparity. Low dependence scores might signify transactional relationships, whereas high dependence implies deeper, less calculated dynamics.
- High vulnerability: scrutinize if the value in your network is concentrated in a few contacts, as relying solely on them can pose vulnerability to unexpected changes or losses.
I add a fourth. Recognise if your have a superior who is actively preventing you from exercising the influence you need. If so, you need to begin plan your exit before being asked to do so for lack of results.
Sytch’s concluding remark is a stark warning. “Your value should not be defined solely by your ability to perform a formal organizational role. If it is, you are likely in trouble — sooner or later, a cheaper, younger, and smarter competitor will join the company”. I go further for CX leaders, not advancing your influence puts CX at risk as a viable business perspective that is taken seriously in your organisation.