Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leadership Principle #1

Here is a great article. It's nominally on sales management, but I think it applies much more broadly.

"Sales Management is the Hardest Job in Sales" by Jeb Blount

The article starts out with a classic quote from Vince Lombardi, so you know the article is good! :)
"Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." – Vince Lombardi

The main thrust of the article is this: As a manager, you're not as important as you think.

"In sales leadership one principle stands above all: You need your people more than they need you. Another way of saying this is that you get paid for what your salespeople do, not for what you do."

"A basic understanding that you need your people more than they need you is the single most important leadership lesson you will ever learn. In our leadership seminars, we spend more time on this principle than any other concept. Why? Because until you get this—and I mean really make this principle part of your heart and soul—you cannot be a great sales manager. No exceptions."

I would add, as I said above, that this applies to other jobs besides sales. Consider the principal of a school. If he or she doesn't show up, life goes on. But if a teacher doesn't show up, that's a problem.

"One of the core traits of ineffective leaders and bad bosses is that they believe that they get paid for the things they do. These bosses range from the arrogantly self-centered to workaholics to micromanagers. They believe, at the core, that they are more important, smarter, and more competent than the people working for them."

"When you get your next paycheck, take a close look at it. The money that was deposited in your bank account was a direct result of the work your salespeople did. You were rewarded for their performance or nonperformance—not yours. To tell yourself anything different is an outright denial of the facts."

"As a sales leader, if your salesperson succeeds, you succeed. If your salesperson fails, you fail. So it follows that your job is to position your people to win. You must create an environment in which they can succeed, develop their skills, leverage their talents, and remove roadblocks so that they sell. You need them more than they need you. Anything that you do that impedes their success hurts you!"

"The single most important leadership principle is this: You get paid for what your people do, not what you do. You need your people more than they need you."

And the comments after the article are also very insightful.

From Scott Smith: "I believe as the leader of the sales team my job is not to be the boss, but to eliminate any and all problems the sales staff has so they can do their jobs more effectively, and to create a positive environment for them to work in."

Bill says: "The next time your manager calls you to 'check up on you' just ask him, 'What did you do today to help me make more money?' Most managers won’t have a clue how to answer and will be dumbfounded that you had the audacity to ask THEM that question(egomaniacs= most poor sales managers)."

From Guy Huttlin: "I was told a long time ago that a Sales Manager’s main job was to make heros not to be heros."

Greg Manjak says: "I had a former sales manager tell me years ago, that if you want to get to the top, then you must run interference for your sales team and give them a clear road to success. If you can do that, then your sales team will bring you to the top along with them!"