Influencing the Influential: D. Keith Pigues

by LP Green, II

Savoy Magazine sat down with D. Keith Pigues, an influencer of the most influential. Through his consulting firm, Luminas Strategy, Pigues serves as a top advisor to the Fortune 1000, focusing on improving organizations’ customer value propositions. His book, Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B, was an inaugural selection in the C-Suite Book Club and featured on Best-Seller TV.

Q: What are the common threads you see among America’s most influential business leaders?

“First, I think they are all ‘A-players,’ people that have been very successful for a long time. Their success usually rests on a great foundation of education and diverse experience.

From my participation in the Executive Leadership Council, I also see that the “A-players” are real people that reach out and reach back:  they reach out to serve communities, and reach back to prepare the next generation of business leaders.”

Q: What do you think are the major focus areas for rising stars in the business world?

“Rising stars must cross two critical chasms for effective leadership: moving from being an individual contributor to managing others and then moving from middle management to senior leadership positions.

There are a trio of qualities on which rising stars must place their focus: influence, vision, and culture-shaping. It begins with an understanding that leadership is really about getting results through others—it’s all about influence.  The earlier you start developing your ability to influence others to get results you cannot achieve alone, the sooner you increase your chances of progressing into senior management.

Through my teaching in UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA Program and the Executive Leadership Council’s very impactful Mid-level Management Symposium and Leadership Week programs, I’ve helped emerging leaders work at developing their vision and culture-shaping abilities. Leaders have to be visionary—effective at helping people to see an attractive future for the organization and the individual as well.  Finally, rising stars must develop the ability to shape the culture of an organization, so that it truly brings out the best in all of its people.”

Q: In your book, you write a lot about value propositions for business. It seems like a pretty simple concept—is it?

“It’s simple, but not simplistic! If it were simplistic, every company would be creating and capturing maximum value in customer relationships. We ask the question: Do your customers make more money doing business with you? The fact is, many companies struggle to answer this question and take actions to keep their value propositions relevant. To win with customers, value propositions must evolve as customers change, the competitive landscape changes and a company’s products and services change. This continual change requires that leaders remain vigilant to ensure their value propositions truly deliver differential value versus their competitors.

We help organizations to understand, measure, and improve their value propositions to ensure they create maximum value for their customers and capture a fair share of value in return – this is what success in business is all about. We inevitably find gaps between what a company believes it delivers to customers versus the quantifiable economic value it actually delivers versus their competitors.

This helps our clients make better strategic growth decisions to maximize profitability. They are able to move from a simple view and understanding of their value proposition to a well-developed strategy to drive profitable, customer-centered growth.”

More about D. Keith Pigues

D. Keith Pigues travels globally to advise clients, speak at association and company events, and coach executives on the development and implementation of profitable growth strategies. He has served as Dean of the School of Business at North Carolina Central University and served as a leadership professor and executive coach at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his corporate career, Pigues served as the Chief Marketing Officer or senior marketing executive at Honeywell International, CEMEX, RR Donnelley, and ADP. He also serves on several boards of directors.

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