There Are No Ideal Leaders

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There is no such a thing as an ideal leader. Each of us leads (with or without title) in our own way with our own sets of strengths and things we don’t do so well. The trick is not to become someone we’re not but to rely on the talents of other good souls to cover what we don’t do well.

No more twisting ourselves into knots, okay?

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Peter R Steward King of the Hill, Giant Kingfisher – Megaceryle maxima via photopin (license)

A Mini Rant About Sales

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Sales and Influence
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I recently read someone’s description of a salesperson. Salespeople, they said, “have the ability to position a product or service in a way that makes customers want to buy it.”

No, no, nope, no.

This is not the kind of sales or salespeople any of us wants or needs. Good salespeople (including people who sell but who would never call themselves salespeople) don’t make anyone do anything.  They see their job as exploring whether it would benefit us and them to work together now. Their talents are not positioning and convincing but being trustworthy and guiding conversations toward win-win-or-let’s-not-play-right-now.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: For a service business, working together looks like a project that might go from tiny (clean and press the customer’s shirts) to gargantuan (rework their global production and distribution chain). For a product business, working together means providing a tangible something (also from tiny to huge) and related services.

 

Today’s photo credit: Found Animals Foundation cc

Determining How Well Sales People Will Sell

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Sales and Influence
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How can we tell whether a sales person will do well? Every sales person has seven sets of assets that determine how well they will sell. These are:

  1. Business knowledge: How well do they understand our specific business: who we help, why we help them, how we make revenue and profit, and what are our business goals?
  2. Sales knowledge: How well do they know what to do and what not to do at each stage of our sales cycle?
  3. Market knowledge: How well do they understand our clients, clients’ needs, trends, competition, etc.?
  4. Sales ability: Do they have the skills to sell effectively in our market?
  5. Collaboration ability: How well do they work with others on the sales team and in the rest of the company to make sales and support clients?
  6. Sales approach: Do they have and use the appropriate sales approach for our market?
  7. Willingness to sell: How motivated are they to put their knowledge, ability, and approach to work to regularly make sales?

The assets our sales people need will depend greatly on our company’s business model, sales cycle, culture, market, clients, products, and services. We must hire, coach, and train sales people for those assets that make sense for our business.

And if we can’t adequately describe these things to our sales people, we can’t expect them to be successful.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Martin Abegglen cc

Attitude etc.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Hiring
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Most of us hire employees based on their skills and experience. We believe that these are the best predictors of success. We filter for them on resumes. We test for them in interviews. And we think we need to find people who will be productive right away.

But as the old adage goes, “When we hire for skills and experience, we fire for attitude.” Personal qualities such as attitude, self management, win-win, and a sense of accountability are far more valuable. Lack of these qualities are what we usually fire for.

Let’s run with the new adage, “Hire for attitude etc. and train the rest.”

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Cost it out. Assume a new employee won’t be productive at all during their first 90 days while they learn the ropes. The price of training them for those 90-days is 1/4 their annual salary plus any course fees and a relatively small portion of their manager’s, mentor’s, and other close colleagues’ time. The oft-sited, conservative price of turnover due to poor attitude etc. is twice the person’s annual salary.

 

Today’s photo credit: bwrabbitgirl cc

soar

Cause Their Performance To Soar

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
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Communicating our belief in others’ ability to accomplish something–even if it’s difficult, even if they’ve never done it before–is an essential leadership talent.

Such a vote of confidence awakens their talents, increases their engagement, and causes their performance to soar.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Part of the trick is not thinking that we are being merely delusional.

 

photo credit: Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, AMS via photopin (license)

wines

Mastery

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career
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Like a great wine, our talents are wonderful to start and keep getting better.

When we are younger, our talents are present, useful, and unpolished. Our success comes from applying that talent, learning from wins and losses, and not stopping. The challenge of youth is to learn what our constellation of talents actually are.

Over time, our talents become refined, sharper, and even more useful. Mastery comes from applying this refined talent, learning from wins and losses, and not stopping. The challenge of mastery is to focus those talents on the things we most care about.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Mastery sneaks up on us. It’s usually not helpful to push hard to achieve it. Keep learning.

Today’s photo credit: Daniel Hansson cc

talents

Your Constellation of Talents

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career
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Sandra from the operations department is superb at strategy. Ken over in accounting is a great salesperson. And Pat in IT is so good at coaching others.

We know we can’t be good at everything that others are good at. We may share different talents with some people. But why compare? We each have a unique constellation of valuable talents to offer.

The more we know our talents, the less we need to compare, worry, play politics, or strive. We can feel good about what we bring to the table and let others’ talents shine brightly, too.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: One great way to learn about your constellation of talents is to ask trusted people who know you.

 

Today’s photo credit: Luis Argerich cc

call

Call Forth

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
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Don’t worry so much about the qualities people lack.

One great (as in grand, epic) tool we leaders have is to practice seeing a desired quality in another even when we haven’t seen it before. They will rise to the heights we call forth from them.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: You will know how great this is if you’ve ever had a leader use it with you.

 

Today’s photo credit: Matthew Paulson cc

the leader of the sunflowers

Great Managers

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Great managers at all levels value and build

people, because everyone wins when each person on the team does well,

systems, so that we operate as smoothly and effectively as possible,

mission, since we need to know where we are going and that where we are going is meaningful and important, and

self, because the organization reflects the wisdom and development level of the manager.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

 

Today’s photo credit: www.ubikwit.net cc

thank you

A Gracious Thank You

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
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What is the proper response to praise? How should we act when others tell us how talented we are? Downplay? Demur? Or quickly try to deflect with a compliment of our own for them? Maybe we should we analyze their comments for ulterior motives.

Nope.

The best response to praise from anyone for any reason is an honest–and for style points–gracious, “Thank you.”

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Turns out that this is also the best response to any criticism.

 

Today’s photo credit: Katherine cc