It’s always an exciting time when you start to hire and build your team. But the excitement will only last if your team perform to expectations. And for that to happen, you will need to become a leader who motivates and inspires them. The bottom line is that they need to respect you. So, what kind of leader are you going to be? Have you thought about this? If you haven’t, now is the time.
You must feel completely comfortable with your leadership style and your leadership style must complement your sales culture. Do not try to be something that you are not, as this won’t work and will stress you out as you will be acting out a role.
Strong leadership does not necessarily come from being the most charismatic person in the world; it comes from building trust and respect with your people. To achieve that, demonstrating the following behaviours can be very effective for all of those who lead teams:
- Leading by example: if you are prepared to be a player-manager by stepping up and selling, as well as leading, you will build enduring credibility, loyalty and respect.
- Coaching: it’s critical to establish a coaching culture early on, as if your people are to improve, you must coach them continually and they have to feel they want to co-coach and support each other. All feedback should be taken in the right spirit, in a quest for continual improvement. (World-renowned athletics coach Charles Van Commenee told me at one of our events that all good leaders should spend a lot of what he called ‘tracksuit time’ building trust with their people and that the best way to do this is to ‘always ask questions and listen.’)
- Being firm but fair: this has always been one of my key personal leadership philosophies, and it’s clear that many of the top leaders in sport and business are firm individuals. Treating your people with firmness and consistency will gain you their long-term respect.
- Praising effort over results: this may sound like an unusual tip, but psychologically it is important for your team’s motivation. (We had Matthew Syed, ex-table tennis player and sportswriter for The Times, as a keynote speaker at The Sales Club, and one of the core findings from his best-selling book Bounce was that it is much more motivational to ‘praise your people for effort than to praise them for results.’)
- Building the performance of your people If you are leading your people well, they shouldn’t just be seeing their role as a ‘job’. They should feel motivated, energised and excited about the potential to develop and have a great career working with you and your company.
You will know they feel this way as you will witness first-hand their drive and energy in the way they operate, and your close relationship means they will be honest with you if they are feeling at all demotivated. They will tell their partners, family and friends what a great business they work for and how much they enjoy being part of a fantastic sales team. They will be proud to work for you and you will be proud to lead them. But being a leader can be a lonely, high-pressure job, and it’s worth noting that it is unlikely your team will give you praise for being a superb leader (much as children don’t ever say, ‘Mummy and Daddy, I just wanted to say you’re both doing a brilliant job looking after us, so thanks very much!’).