WHAT I KNOW: Dance with the Power Core

Posted on August 4, 2022

Hi everybody, this is Jeanne Bliss. And what I know is that you must DANCE with the power core.

Let me explain. As I was doing this work, especially inside of large companies like Microsoft and Allstate—what I noticed was that to get traction, true traction, that became foundational to the way leaders lead—I needed to recognize and understand the cores of power inside the organization. In other words, which leaders got the most resources were understood the most in terms of the technicality of their roles, or the work that they did, and were highest on the agenda with the CEO and the leadership team.

Understanding the Centers of Power

So for example, when I started at Allstate, I was leading customer satisfaction and retention, reporting to the CEO of the personal lines business, what I realized was at Allstate at the time, they were two big power cores. One was the sales organization leading over 50,000 agents. And the other was what I call the vertical power core of doing insurance, the mechanics of the business. And what you know, in both of those things, is if they if they’re done, just in terms of the technicality of the work, it tends to be very silo centered, internally centric around the KPIs for that power core.

So what I found was that I needed to partner—or dance—with the power core, the person leading the sales organization to get traction and to make this work relevant to growth.

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Getting Traction and Dancing Together

One of the things we found out immediately as we were partnering was that the agents at the time, were only compensated for getting new business, not the long term value or growth of their book of business, or their individual customers. Does any of this sound familiar? And so what we did was I partnered with the senior VP of sales and the agent population, we work together to change the compensation model. When it was presented to the field and the executive team, he presented it, not me—I was simply prodding it along enabling it. And so by dancing with that power core, that was the initial traction that we got, and that led us and gave us the ability to do the other work.

So inside of your organization, there are at least one power cores possibly two—I mentioned two just now: sales. There, you may be vertically driven, sometimes even financial services is vertically driven. Sometimes hospitality is vertical driven, again, executing the tactics of the business. There is also certainly a finance power core. But in my book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0 (I’m going to at the end of this give you some information that you can read through):

Identify your power core. Then, identify the leaders who are leading that power core and partner with them to earn the right to grow. You also need to earn the right to do the work.

So what I know is if you don’t dance with the power core, you’re going to be relegated to whack-a-moling broken things—getting on the agenda and being maybe not at the top of the agenda, the middle of the agenda.

Dance with the power core. Know your power core, and you’ll get traction. That’s what I know.

This is Jeanne Bliss. You can get more at customerbliss.com/WhatIKnow. Thanks, everybody.

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