Tag Archives: how to be a better leader

Storytelling Can Be a Solution for Many Managerial & Leadership Challenges

leadership4Business leaders and managers often express their frustration when their directives, presentations, or other messages don’t seem to be heard or understood — or heeded!

Many report having to reiterate the same policies and procedures, only to have them fall on deaf ears again and again.

If this sounds familiar, there is a simple solution for today’s leaders!

As presented in a recent newsletter, storytelling has proved to be the key leadership technique for increasing understanding, buy-in, and compliance.

For example, in a recent Forbes article, author and consultant Steve Denning suggests, “Rather than merely advocating and counter-advocating propositional arguments, which lead to more arguments, leaders establish credibility and authenticity through telling their stories…

“When they [leaders] believe deeply in them, their stories resonate, generating creativity, interaction and transformation.”

“Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel,” says the editorial team at mindtools.com.

“They can form the foundations of an entire workplace culture, and they have the power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around. Stories can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t.”

Research by Paul Smith, a consumer research executive, indicates the following as being among the most common reasons for the use of stories by business leaders:

  • Inspiring the organization
  • Setting a vision
  • Training or teaching important lessons
  • Defining culture and values
  • Garnering organizational buy-in
  • Leading change

Proactive Sales Management: Balancing the Rear-view Mirror?

salesmgmt2A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month or quarter.

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing, and while the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, a proactive approach to sales management and leadership will involve:

  • A systematic method of interacting with the team on a group-basis
  • A systematic method of interacting with each team member on an individual basis
  • Ongoing individual assessment via sales call monitoring and joint sales calls
  • Proactive field support
  • Team building & motivation
  • Ongoing engagement, training and improvement plan

Read the full article…

Sales Managers: Do You Qualify?

qualify2Just as qualifying customers and prospects is a critical step in the selling process, it is also a necessary component of prudent sales management.

Many believe that sales management consists of leadership, managerial skills, and a higher level of selling – that is, sales managers must often sell to the sales force. [see related article].

And in so doing, so too must they continually qualify members of the sales force, who, in these instances, take on the role of “internal” customers.

To point out a few parallels, consider that successful sales people qualify their customers and prospects during the early stages of the selling process. While qualification can cover a wide range of issues, key areas involve:

  • Confirming interest, motivation and urgency levels, and that the overall needs are real
  • Determining if the buyer is giving us serious consideration
  • Identifying priorities or special needs, such as quick delivery or modified payment terms, that can often make or break the sale
  • Confirming that each customer or prospect has the budget and wherewithal to acquire the products or services
  • Confirming the basis on which decisions will be made and how the evaluation process will work. This includes identifying decision makers as well as influencers
  • Assessing each buyer’s knowledge level with respect to product and service offerings and his or her ability to properly evaluate proposed solutions

Now let’s look at the similarities that exist in a sales management scenario.

Prior to setting sales strategies or assessing a sales person’s portfolio of pending business, a sales manager must qualify the overall situation. The first step will involve a discussion on how thoroughly the sales person has qualified his or her customers / prospects.

Next, regardless of a sales person’s tenure, he or she must be motivated; and self-motivation can only go so far. The wise sales manager always checks motivation levels, and is ready to provide the necessary incentive or inspiration.  Of course people’s attitudes and motivational needs fluctuate on a regular basis; so as part of the ongoing qualification process, sales managers must also determine the best motivational strategy for each situation.

And speaking of attitude, does each sales person have confidence in our solution? Does he or she have the proper sense of urgency?

Do we have everyone’s buy-in on company policies and procedures? The company mission?

It’s also important for sales managers to confirm the actual steps that have been taken to facilitate the sales process. Have our strategies been properly implemented?

Similarly, sales managers must continually assess the team’s knowledge level. Do we have the skills to carry out sales plans? Are selling skills consistently applied? Do we need additional product or systems training? Are we focused on benefits and value or do our presentations simply tout features and price?

“Many in sales management think that they have been called to command. In reality, they have really been called to a higher level of sales,” says author and founder of makingthenumbers.com Jack Falvey.

So in summary, not only must we know how to qualify our customers and prospects, but also our sales team!

Tips for Developing a High-Performing Team

teamMary Ann Masarech, Employee Engagement Lead Consultant at BlessingWhite, recently posted an article on her company’s website noting that a high-performance work environment is clearly the responsibility of everyone, not just the senior leaders of an organization, and that talent management and compensation policies play a key role.

She includes tips to spark readers’ behavior – and that of their fellow leaders. Some highlights:

  • Every week or two, discuss each team member’s workload and help prioritize which outcomes matter most.
  • Conduct engagement conversations with each team member to understand what’s working in support of high performance and engagement – and what’s not.
  • Recognize high performance and address poor performance.
  • Ask managers who report to you what’s getting in the way of high performance. Work with HR, finance, or other peers to address organization-wide practices that don’t work.
  • Invite suggestions from employees on process improvements.

Selling Change… the FUD Factor

fudRegardless of form, the concept of change has a tendency to promote the “FUD” factor – fear, uncertainty and doubt!

Consider that in their daily quest for new customers, sales people constantly struggle to overcome buyers’ comfort with the status-quo; and in organizations of all types people tend to look with skepticism at new policies and procedures, and react with deep concern at new compensation plans or updated benefits programs; and people at all levels regularly cringe at the suggestion that there might be a different or better way to do their jobs!

Yet without change comes stagnation and potential loss. Current-day examples include Xerox in copiers or Polaroid in instant photography, each experiencing significant declines in market share and profits as competitors introduced new and improved, lower-cost alternatives.

Leadership Mission
Given these realities, part of every leader’s job must involve promoting and “selling” the concept of change to the team… helping others recognize the value of change (review these amazing facts that illustrate the value of change) and helping them understand it, process it, and accept it.

A few facts that might help with this mission:

  • It is normal for people to experience denial, anger, and even depression when they are confronted with different forms of change in the workplace; a good leader understands this and also recognizes it… thus making it easier to help people find the best path toward acceptance
  • Successful change starts from within;  people must trust that the change will benefit the company as well as themselves over the long-term
  • Change is best presented not as a means of fighting the current way, but as a means of taking a better way
  • It’s easier for people to change when they can, rather than when they have to — help others understand this and encourage early adoption of new policies, procedures or processes

Read the full article…

Management v. Leadership

leadership4Several posts over the past year have focused on leading people, on how leadership differs from management, and also on how both skills are critically-important to effective sales (or other) management.

Here is a thought-provoking article from Psychology Today that focuses on the concept of transformational leadership, which is defined as focusing on relationships and people, motivating them to high levels of performance and, in the process, helping them develop their own leadership potential.

The article also shares four elements of transformational leadership.

Along similar lines, Conway Management Company, a global management consulting firm specializing in continuous improvement, shared some compelling information about workplace relationships and their impact on productivity, morale and profitability!


A Culture of Listening?

We found a thought-provoking article that very nicely summarizes the importance of listening within any type of organization, and how the simple act of listening enhances the impact of good leadership!

The concept of building a “culture of listening” is not a commonly-used phrase, but it sure “sounds good!”

Read the full article… | Comment…

Leadership is Important in Every Type of Organization

leadership4Whether you are a sales manager, business owner, or business executive,  what you do and how you do it has a significant impact on the team.

In a recent article posted on inc.com, author Lolly Daskal suggests, “No one factor makes a company admirable. But if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you’d pick leadership. Not any leadership–but leadership that matters… Great leaders share a combination of traits and behaviors.”

The article goes on to identify seven examples of these traits and behaviors, which include:

  • Lead With Value. When you work from the perspective of bringing value to your colleagues, customers, and clients, your leadership matters because it reflects that you care.
  • Lead With Recognition. When you appreciate and recognize those who work for you and recognize their hard work, your leadership matters because you treat people the way you know they should be treated.
  • Lead With Character. When your leadership is rooted in character, your leadership matters because it reflects your integrity.

Read the full article… | Comment…

Leadership: Management’s Virtue

Just as honesty, humility, patience, and kindness are virtues, so too is leadership.

Many have defined it, others have eloquently described it, and much has been written about it, but only a few have exemplified it. And while most would agree that “leadership” is a major component of management, true leadership is rare.

A strong leader sets a standard by example, and recognizes that the true authority to lead comes from those who are inspired to follow.

Leadership is bringing out the best that others have to offer. It is letting others know that you respect them and have confidence in them; it is encouraging them to try, and it is helping them to achieve new and higher levels of success and fulfillment; leadership is making it possible for others to see their way in the pursuit of happiness.

Leadership is a virtue.

Read more…