Someone once asked me how I became such an intuitive leader. More specifically, they wanted to know how I managed to have sales teams that consistently excelled.
As I reflected on my success as a leader, I gave the answer that I still believe is true. When you help others become their greatness, when you dedicate yourself to the development of the best that is in others, your personal success will follow.
I believe that serving others is the critical “secret ingredient” to extraordinary success.
Personal Formula for Success
My corporate leadership experience came from managing successful sales teams. It was a challenging and rewarding experience. But it is was not what most would consider “normal.” For those who may not know, sales people are not like “normal” people; they are in a class of their own. But with this, the pleasures of leading them and experiencing the changes and challenges presented by them turned out to be one of the most exhilarating rides of my life!
Rather than shrinking under pressure of the unknown, there is something within sales people who rises up to the challenge of getting sales numbers and reaching sales quotas. In addition, they fiercely protect their “territories” and learn to serve their customers in ways that create loyalty and a following. They don’t all start out knowing what to do.
Some of them haven’t read the “human handbook” and their ego’s are frequently out front and not really well used.
So the question becomes this: “As a leader, how do you encourage the enthusiasm and harness the driving force of your teams, sales or otherwise, to increase your opportunities for success. How do you help others use their innate abilities and untapped strengths?”
Learning From Personal Experience
What I learned to do didn’t come from textbooks or training programs, it came from my experience and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I received great training and read tons of books.
What I am talking about is listening to your intuition and developing a feel for what is unspoken, yet said quite loudly.
This is the starting place for you as a potential great leader.
Those are the intangible that things you need. The books and the incredible training are tools that supplant your own super powers, giving you processes and programs to aid your other abilities.
What follows are some of the things I learned that worked in my organization. The first refers to the team and the second set of bullets refers to you as leader.
For Your Team
Know and Understand Them – And it all begins with a few questions…
- Talk to your people and get to know them
- Ask them about their dreams, their career goals
- Once you know what they want, set a path to help them get there
- Find out what they think is missing for the customer
- Invite their input on strategic decisions that affect them
- Instead of letting them bring their problems and struggles to you, ask them to bring a solution that solves this problem. When they see how their solution helps others, they will begin to think more strategically the next time they meet a difficulty
- Conduct quarterly reviews. Have them write it. And then you adjust it according to your view, it increases their understanding of your expectations and allows everyone to increase effectiveness before it’s too late. For the ones who are way ahead of their goals, encourage some new growth opportunities after celebrating their success.
- Teach your team to think from a broader perspective right from the beginning
- When they have a request that seems unlikely; ask them how receiving this supports the vision of the company, how it adds to the profitability, reputation, market share increase, or organizational growth
- Be willing to lose your job to one of them by working to promote them
- Give them more tools to work with that enhance them – one year after a three-year winning streak – I gave each of my team members a copy of “The Winner Within – A Life Plan for Team Players” by Pat Riley…it helped all of us stay in the game and reach for new heights
Create a pro-active sharing environment
- Create a mentor program; let the next leader you are developing make it
- Where possible, allow them to work with others or in another department, or “territory” as a developmental action to enhance skills or build other capabilities
Most important – Be open, available AND – listen – listen – listen!
What can you do for yourself…
- Embrace your strengths and your vulnerabilities
- Take responsibility for your own development
- Continually educate yourself
- Be the example
- Create incentive programs within your own sphere of influence
- Use all the leader styles seamlessly for relevant situations
- Develop muscle on how to have tough and confronting conversations while maintaining the dignity and integrity of all involved
- When you need to, when it is proper, when everything is out of hand and your team didn’t do what you asked, when your deadlines for them prevented other timely projects – stand up, be firm, get “mad”, then leave the room…it works! With everything else you have done for them, you earned this! (Don’t forget to go back with a renewed sense of calm!)
- Find your own mentor
- Align yourself with people in your organization who will support the new ideas that come from your team
- Network within your company to add to your own bench strength
- Take your well-thought out ideas to the leaders in your company complete with potential profitability
- If your idea is a process or idea that a few of your team members could test first and prove, work with it for 90 days and then work it through with the rest of your team and let the results begin to speak for you.
- Become known as an innovator
- Share your knowledge and be open to learn from others
- Continually be a node for industry happenings, competitive activity, new product releases of others, and innovations that will put your company on the leading edge
Enough for now!
And oh, I forgot to say have fun along the way, laugh and smile. Become known as the champion and your legacy will last – guaranteed.
What other things have you done that propelled your success? What things do you do that get in the way of others greatness? Do you ever procrastinate having tough conversations? What kind of change agent are you for your company? Where do you need help and won’t ask? What caused your greatest success? We want to know!
Image Sources: saleawayllc.com, leanculturenow.com