I’m skipping this weeks WITCE Wednesday (I hate that name, so if someone could please offer another it would great.) to share a guest post.
Chad Malchow is Vice President of North American Sales for Return Path and one smart cat. Return Path is a client and I have been working with Chad for a few months. As part of our work I asked Chad to think about leadership and the work we’re doing and put it into post form to be published here. He did a goo job. I like how he broke this down and his take on the importance of understanding the effect of your management and leadership approach.
The Cause and Effect of Leadership
As a sales leader, are you aware of the cause and effect? What I mean by this is for every cause there is an effect (positive or negative). As a sales leader I have realized how important it is to understand the cause and effect of applying or not applying leadership attributes. While there is a laundry list of leadership attributes, I will focus on three. Why 3? Simple. First, I believe in simplicity and three is a very good number of ideas to digest. Second, these happen to be three areas of my personal development plan to be an even more effective leader at Return Path. The three areas I will focus on and speak about my experiences of cause and effect are: Empathy, Authoritative and Accountability
Empathy - Leaders must know what their team is experiencing to truly help them be better. If you are not joining sales calls, attending trade shows and asking sales reps questions to learn, you cannot have empathy. Empathy effects the decisions we make. The decisions you make are based on what you know, not what you think. They are based on thinking of others and not self. Have you walked in your teams shoes lately? This week try having a 30 minute check in with a sales rep and just ask questions. See what you learn.
Authoritative - This word is used commonly when people talk about leadership. For me, authoritative simply means being clear on what you are looking to achieve or the guidance you are giving. As a leader your team needs to have confidence in the direction you/they are going. They need to know exactly what is expected of them and what success looks like. Salespeople are in sales because they want to win. As a sales leader we need to gain agreement, then let the salesperson determine how they will achieve their goal. However it is not just about telling people to go forth and conquer. At times sales reps seek our advice. If you are like me, you enjoy brainstorming – both the exercise and the output. My key learning here has been how important it is to give clear guidance when a rep asks you for help. They need to have a strong leader who understands them and their challenges. A leader who provides solid guidance. The cause and effect of how empathy and authoritative work together can easily be overlooked or underestimated. Think about the direction, decisions and guidance you have given to your team. How much did empathy play in your decision or guidance?
Accountability – How many times have you left a meeting telling your team what needs to be done and asking if they understood or agree, then go off and hope you achieve your goal. If you are like me, you have either participated in many meetings like this or you actually led meetings like this. My big learning here is that being authoritative loses all of its impact or effectiveness when you do not have accountability. If you gain agreement on what to do but you do not hold them accountable, what’s the point. If you say you will do something for a sales rep but do not hold yourself accountable, that rep will lose faith in you as a leader and any authority you have will be based only on title and not on trust and that is a very dangerous place to be. When we hold ourselves and others accountable for how we achieve our goal or what we said we will do we increase the effectiveness when we are being authoritative.
Understand where you are being effective or ineffective. Determine the cause and desired effect you want to have and create a plan to improve. The World of sales is full of cause and effect. As sales leaders we too must be aware of the cause and effect of our leadership.