You are the second most important person in the lives of your employees; understand the nobility of leadership, and choose your words carefully. In this video, Lisa shares a story from her Dad.
- My father was a banker. The day I got promoted to my first sales manager job, he said to me, congratulations, you've just become the second most important person in the lives of your employees. It's scary, but next to your spouse, your boss has the power to make your life wonderful or miserable. People talk about their boss at the dinner table with their family. They talk about you when they speak to their parents. Their kids probably know your name.
Leadership is a noble endeavor and you have a responsibility as a new sales manager to give it your all. So what does this mean? First of all, it starts with understanding leadership, what is it and what it's not. Let's talk about what it's not. Leadership does not mean that you are responsible for making every decision by yourself. Leadership does not mean that you're expected to know everything nor never make mistakes. Yes, you have increased responsibilities, and the stakes are higher, but that doesn't mean that you can't ask for help.
As a sales rep, you probably had some great coaches and mentors. As a leader, those mentors will become even more important to you. Think about the leaders you love and respect and reach out to them often. It may be people at work or it may be people outside of work, a trusted parent, a pastor, or maybe a friend. Grant yourself the space to grow into your role. You probably weren't a rockstar sales rep the first day. Leadership is no different, it takes time to get it right.
So what can you do immediately? First off, be transparent with your team. One of my favorite leaders, my friend and colleague Cheryl Bachelder, is the CEO of Popeyes Chicken, and she is the most profitable restaurant CEO in America. And she once said to me, your people are going to try and figure out your motivations. Just make it easy and tell them on the front end. If you don't explain what your motivations are, your team may assume you're nothing but a closing monster who wants a big bonus at the end of the year.
So yes, you want to close, but if one of your goals is also to be a good leader and help your team grow, just tell them that, in those exact words. If you're nervous about your new job, admit it, but tell your team you're committed to their success and you will do whatever it takes to help them. A second thing is, and this is particularly important as a new manager, set clear and high expectations. Ninety percent of performance problems can be traced back to lack of clear expectations.
Nothing is worse than disappointing your boss, especially unintentionally. Your team is going to be looking to your for direction. Don't be shy about it, provide it. If you want them to make a certain number of calls a day, tell them. If you expect your people to do their presentations in a specific format, explain what that looks like. If you're having a performance issue with one of your people, look in the mirror and ask yourself, was I clear about my expectations? And lastly, just have an open door and be humble.
You're a new leader. There may be people on your team who are older and more experienced than you. There are probably people who think about things differently and do things in different ways. Learn from it, accept suggestions, ask for feedback. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you respected. Consider this, when you're interacting with your team, your behavior is going to be their dinner time conversation. What do you want your team to say about you?
- Understanding your role
- Setting the tone as manager
- Recruiting the right people
- Dealing with inherited bad talent
- Making sales meetings count
- Working with marketing, accounting, and product
- Communicating with senior leaders
- Dealing with failure