Seth Godin on lambchops, and I don't mean food
First, his definition:
Lambchop: "A kind, thoughtful person. Someone who keeps her promises. Someone who does great work but doesn't always brag about it. Someone you'd like to work with again.
"It used to be that a real jerk who got results was exactly what you needed. Today, in a world that's a lot more connected and a lot more permeable, lambchops win out"
I run into people that fall under these definitions. Today, I ran into a Lambchop. I took my son to get a bunch of new items and uniform pieces for his latest endeavour: Cub Scouts. Traveling to the Scout Shop in downtown Seattle, I realized only when we arrived that I'd left my wallet at home. Knowing that they'd soon close, I told the man behind the counter - smartly dressed in a Scout Master uniform - of my forgetfulness.
"No problem. If you want, get the information from your wife and we'll send you on your way with everything you need today," he told me.
Huh? I was surprised.
And then he stepped from behind the counter and proceeded to help us collect all the various items my eight-year-old would need to fit in with his other Bear Cub Scouts at their next meeting, explaining all of the ins and outs, the detailed info on each item. This was Nordstrom's-class customer service, and coming from a man wearing a kerchif. (OK, maybe he wasn't... but he had the official uniform on.) A few minutes later we were on our way, my son happy that he had all his gear, and me happy that I didn't have to drive round trip twice to Seattle.
At Microsoft, we talk a lot about a focus on improving the experiences that our Customers and Partners have with us, corporate citizenship and generally remembering what it was like to be a customer of Microsoft. Talk is cheap, as they say. So as employees, we tend to be our own worst critics and supporters: we not only use our own services, software and hardware products, but we deliver feedback to product teams on the good and the bad (and sometimes the ugly ;).
And when we do this, the people that command the most respect -- and frankly get the best feedback from the product teams -- tend to be the ones who offer constructive and thoughtful feedback, rather than Seth's described "real jerks" as noted above. There just seem to be more connected people working on behalf of our customers and partners these days, doing the right things.