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Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller: ‘Become A Customer In Your Own Process’

Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller
Corporate Competitor Podcast
In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Aflac U.S. President Virgil Miller shares how leaders can coach their teams to master the fundamentals—a precursor to bolder risk-taking.

Before becoming a U.S. Marine and president of Aflac U.S., Virgil Miller played baseball and football and even took up fencing in college. In his view, a critical link between athletics and corporate leadership is the unwavering focus on fundamentals.

To that end, Miller has a recommendation for fellow leaders: The next time you and your team find yourselves patting one another on the back because you think your process for doing something is as good as it gets, try a little exercise he puts his own teams through to test their satisfaction: walk your own process.

At Aflac, this means having teammates file their own claims to experience the process firsthand. “If you want to own the process, and you want to make sure it works, then you need to test it,” Miller says. Have you truly mastered the fundamentals of making your processes as easy on your customer as they can be?

“We listen to customer feedback. But you also need to do it yourself,” he says. “Have you called a call center yourself? Call it. Did you have to wait long? Did they answer your question? Become a customer in your own process.” 

Miller joined Aflac in 2004 and his innate ability to inspire teams and drive results catapulted him through various leadership roles—he received no fewer than 30 promotions during his decades-long career—showcasing his determination to equip those around him with a team-first mindset that produced an impact across the company. 

One of the greatest challenges leaders face is fostering an environment where teams feel empowered to take calculated risks. It’s an issue near and dear to Miller, and one on which he offers numerous words of wisdom, including:

• The critical business lesson he learned from taking a called third strike during a Little League All-Star

• The difference between leading a team and transforming a team

• Why risk-taking is essential to swing momentum in your favor

Miller argues that the ultimate fundamental all leaders must master is total responsibility. “The first thing that we say is the measure of any leader is based on the performance of his or her people,” Miller pointed out. “So if my team fails, it is because of me. And if they succeed, I am a part of that as well.” 

For more episodes of Corporate Competitor Podcast with guests including Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders, MasterClass CEO David Rogier, and Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian click here


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