A great sales leader who is highly-desired has mastered the art, delivered the numbers and brought out the best in their people. Investing in people does not mean leaders are "soft" and won't get results. It is quite the opposite.
After all, a leader's job is to manage through their people to get to the end result. What are leaders doing if they are not leading? Why are their people not thriving and motivated to act? Most sales leaders with ineffective leadership habits, who struggle to get results, prioritize execution efforts in the wrong order, or not at all.
1. Ignore the need to set ONE big, bold goal, create a sales strategy and an execution plan.
Too focused on measurements, spreadsheets and reporting, praying that the end-result will change each time a report is refreshed? When the leader does not set direction, chaos is created and leaders:
• struggle to get out of a vicious circle with no linear start and no end.
• energy is spent "putting out fires" rather than feeling energized.
• Scapegoats are found when things go wrong and the blame game begins affecting morale and performance.
• don't actually know who has the "ball' and deliverables fall "off the rails."
Tip: Create a big picture and outline quantifiable outcomes with accountability, engagement and teams working as ONE.
2. Disempower teams from dreaming big.
There is nothing worse than hearing the words "no, you can't do that because that is not the way we do things around here. You will never get that over the line. Good luck!"
• Not giving the team time to innovate and create new ways of delivering client value or gaining market share only hurts the company's bottom line in the end and leaders will be stuck in the short term, playing catch-up to the competition.
• Not knowing how to leverage the diverse talents in the team. The industry competition is fiercely opportunistic, always looking to snap up great talent and talented people are always looking for great places to work. Invest in the collective team talent so they are challenged to create big ideas. Do not leave an opportunity for other companies to be a lure.
• Too focused on measuring the end-results and not enough time on the "How are we going to achieve our targets," assuming everybody already knows how?
Tip: Create space for people to create big ideas and leaders will be astonished by their execution.
3. Don't pay attention to who deserves credit and then not publicly give it.
A common complaint: "I am so peeved right now, as I have worked long days and hours to finish this 'project' and received zero recognition for my work." "I am not extending myself ever again." Sound familiar? Leaders depend on their team to make themselves stand out as a desired leader. Some leaders think that they can actually succeed without their team.
• Spending too much time rubbing shoulders with the senior leadership team, heralding single-handed efforts?
• Feeling like a lone 'ranger 'in the dark and then and want all the credit when someone in they're team gets a major win?
• Experience low trust with increased resistance to gain any productivity.
Tip: Leaders who work closely with their team, notice their efforts and applaud their good work, will be amazed by a significant increase in loyalty, productivity and reciprocity and the team will look up to their leader as a reputable leader.
4. Avoid investing in self-development as a leader.
Have you ever been in situations where you are becoming less relevant than the people you lead?
• Not able to create time to actively learn and share new knowledge and talk through engaging client and sales experiences everyday.
• Lack the ability to structure team engagement, be vulnerable and informally mingle without the need to micro-manage.
• Struggle to navigate people with a high IQ and EQ creating roadblocks for results and ongoing productivity losses through people.
Tip: Be progressive, hungry and capable. Immerse in knowledge, development and future research to be considered for the next big gig.
5. Avoid networking internally with people who can help leaders and their team.
"Why do all the other leaders get all of the benefits and I don't?"
Sounds like "FOMO" or "fear of missing out," with negative self-talk.
• Sales leaders will miss out on career promotions and project opportunities to increase visibility amongst senior leaders.
• Leaders not blowing trumpets (not by professing to everyone how great they are) but actually having a simple written document and socializing how value can be created to create mutual wins.
• Perception of not being entrepreneurial (even if they feel they are) will miss out on perhaps that extra little investment to do new things.
Tip: Leaders need to get themselves out there with confidence. Nobody is going to tap them on the shoulder unless they have demonstrated the capability to build relationships and create a positive difference.
Overcome or avoid these mistakes and leaders will be greatly admired and highly desired. Leaders will have a credible reputation; deliver great results because they will have the entire team behind them, evangelizing only good things about their leadership. Even little mishaps will be ignored to only focus on the positives because the leader has worked hard to earn their team's respect, trust and loyalty.