Stop Managing and Lead! It’s More Effective and Fun

execunetselect-self-leadership-notePeople will follow a strong leader but often resent a strong manager. Let me share 12 specific strategies to help you develop strong leadership skills.

1) Reward and Acknowledge Efforts, Attitude, and Achievements

Sales leadership is about being generous with your time, feedback, and rewards when leading your sales team.

When you consistently go out of your way to reward and acknowledge your team, they will reward you with more sales. If you are generous with your praise, support, and time, you will establish yourself as a natural leader.

2) Don’t Necessarily Practice the Golden Rule

We all know the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”  Effective leaders break this rule and don’t assume everyone is just like them. They discover how each person prefers to be trained, coached, and rewarded and individualize their approach.

3) Know When to Celebrate and When to Coach

When in doubt, celebrate. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. If you mix celebrating with coaching, it often comes across like a lack of appreciation. Set up opportunities to celebrate with your team, even if it’s a small celebration. It’s these small gestures of respect and celebration that build loyalty.

4) Provide Written Expectations and Minimum Standards

The most successful teams are the ones who are involved in setting goals and have committed to attain those goals for their own reasons.  Provide each member of your sales team with written expectations and minimum standards that will ensure they attain the goals you have mutually set. Develop performance objectives at the beginning of each year so each employee knows exactly how they will be evaluated in 6 to 12 months.

When you hire new employees, always share performance objectives so your new hires know exactly what they must achieve in their first year.  This also helps improve engagement and retention.

5) Develop the Natural Talents and Abilities of Your Team

Your best employees understand they have a marketable talent and will resign if they are not using their natural talents or involved in projects that target their interests.  During conversations always ask if your employees have any talents they are not utilizing and find projects where they could become involved.  True leadership is a partnership between you and your employees.  Together identify problems and seek solutions:

  • Be a strong advocate for the growth and development of your team.
  • Devote time and resources for training, coaching, and developing talents.
  • Engage your team in decisions – they have answers.

6) Hold Yourself and Your Team Accountable

Accountability is the ability to identify and prioritize actions to achieve goals set.  Consistently review and measure your process.  Engage your team members in setting up how to measure accountability.  When you establish accountability, your team will establish and retain goals that are relevant, realistic, and attainable.

7) Communicate and Listen Effectively

Effective leaders talk and write simply, clearly, and persuasively.  They must also listen and take time to understand their team members (putting themselves in the person’s shoes).  Conversations should never be interrupted by phone, text, or emails which shows a lack of respect.

8) Reach a Decision or Take a Risk

There are situations when a decision must be reached or a risk must be taken, even when all facts may not be available.  A strong leader must recognize when further analysis is not profitable and when a decision must be reached.

9) Know When to Relax

When your employees are under pressure to meet deadlines and goals, conflict can arise, and performance is negatively affected. This is best handled by introducing a break, which could be a light remark or an opportunity to laugh. Timing is obviously the key factor, and a strong leader knows when their team needs stress relief.

We’ve all heard the famous Mark Twain quote: “Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That is sometimes easier said than done because even the best jobs have challenges. When leaders actively and regularly include fun in the workplace, morale improves, fun becomes part of your company culture, and you will become more productive.

10) Surround Yourself With the RIGHT People

Think of the five people you hang around most and ask yourself the following questions: 1) Are you the student or teacher?  2) Do you earn more or less than them? One of the quickest ways to elevate your leadership abilities is to identify leaders you can learn from. Find people who are more successful than you, not necessarily in your same profession or industry. Include them in your business and personal life and you will be amazed at how quickly you develop strong leadership skills.

11) Learn and Develop

Join Professional Associations, take courses and force yourself out of your comfort zone as often as possible. Whenever feasible accept leadership roles in organizations that provides you with two bonuses. First you improve your leadership abilities and second, you improve your marketability and opportunities for career growth.

12) Don’t Fear Failure

Great leaders fail more than managers because they try to accomplish more. However, in the long-run, great leaders also succeed more! View failures as learning experiences. It’s also less painful to learn from the failures of others.

Review the 12 strategies outlined. Identify the area where you need the most improvement and implement that strategy first.  Imagine the impact if you implemented one strategy each month for the next 12 months! Guaranteed you will become the leader that inspires not only yourself, but others to achieve greatness.



Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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