Category Archives: Management
My Collaborative Leadership List!
Here if the final draft of the “Collaborative Leadership List” that I compiled in June 2012 with a “Five Star 5” post. My points are in bold, followed by the contributor’s comments. Thanks to everyone for the awesome additions!
- Motivate, inspire and most importantly have fun
- Give an enthusiastic “thank you” when things go well, and a supportive ear when things go wrong
- Be a positive example with your work ethic, and have a desire to succeed that others are proud to follow
- Understand that all your employees are unique people and need to be managed accordingly
- As often as possible smile, laugh and have a bounce in your step!
“Beat employees regularly with a big stick!” (Joking of Course!) – Stuart Young
“Be authentic and transparent. Say what you’re going to do and do it. Transparency requires humanity. Show your team you’re vulnerable. Not only will they be more forgiving, they’ll be more supportive.” – Chad Miller
“My best leaders have been able to see (and bring out) more greatness in me than I could see in myself. My dad has long contended that the best leaders philosophically approach their leadership with the idea that they need their people more than their people need them.” – Broc Edwards
“Step in and help out when it is least expected just to lighten another’s load.They really appreciate it and most of the time deserve it.” – Tina Del Buono
“I make an effort to catch my people doing something RIGHT, then I praise them for it. Too easy to catch them doing something wrong.
When something goes bad I make sure I am “firm on the issue, not the person”. – Steve Vanega
“On your second point.. great leaders not only be a supportive ear but also takes the responsibility when things go wrong. We have seen this great example through Howard Schultz of Starbucks. On your 4th point, I totally agree with you. This happens in my organization where the leaders often see their followers as a collective unit as opposed to recognize their own unique personality.” – Chen Choon
“We often “Celebrate” as well. Ups, Downs, challenges and all the other nitty gritty goodies that come in sales. Having spirits high and loyalties in check = imperative” – Cara Adams
Can A New Coach Make A Difference?
I have heard a couple of incredible interviews recently with hockey coaches. I immediately thought of the parallels to leaders in the business world. It seemed like an opportune time to repost this article on a professional hockey coach.
I was driving home from work one day last January and heard an awesome interview with Jeremy Rutherford from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Team 1260 Sports Radio in Edmonton. The discussion focused on the new coach of the St. Louis Blues, Ken Hitchcock, and the team’s amazing turn-around since his hiring.
Highly regarded professional hockey coach Ken Hitchcock was out of work for some time when the St. Louis Blues hired him in November, 2011. He had a reputation throughout the National Hockey League as a disciplinarian for many years, and lead with a “my way or the highway” approach. He had a history of conflict with young players who were having trouble adapting to his style of play.
By the time he took over the floundering yet talented Blues hockey club, the positive change in the team was almost instantaneous. At one point in January of 2012, they were on a 21 wins, 6 losses and 2 overtime losses run. The team’s fans and casual observers were impressed with the team’s turnaround, but not totally surprised based on Hitchcock’s history of success.
When Jeremy Rutherford was asked about Hitchcock’s most recent success, his answer was simple and to the point,
He adjusted his coaching style to cater to today’s players. There is still accountability, but the players are not afraid to make one mistake and then have their butt stapled to the bench for an extended period. Two veterans who had previously played for Hitchcock gave the players a head’s up of what to expect from their new coach.
Rutherford described a potential scenario,
“You make one mistake, no problem. You make a second mistake, no problem. You continue to make the same mistake; the coach and player are going to have to find solutions.”
The part of the radio interview that impressed me the most discussed that Coach Hitchcock had studied all 30 teams for several months while he was unemployed. He was preparing for his next opportunity, and waiting for the phone to ring.
Two things stood out for me about this message:
- He was not just sitting at home waiting for the next job to fall in to his lap
- He had the positive belief that another role would come his way, and it was only a matter of time
- Have you ever observed a sport or business team make a remarkable improvement after a coaching or management change?
- Can you pinpoint specific reasons for the improvement?
10 Guaranteed Steps to Leadership Excellence
David Kanigan is one of my favourite bloggers out there. Check out these fantastic steps to leadership excellence!
- Be strategic. Be Tactical. Be a firefighter.
- Push for productivity. For excellence. Pull. Pull with PURPOSE.
- Set pace. Drive. Pause. Stop. Change. BALANCE.
- Build Relationships. CARE. Keep adequate distance.
- Learn. Coach. Nurture. Correct.
- Hire. Upgrade. Right-size. Fire. (sigh)
- Lead. Manage. Own. Delegate. Follow. Release.
- Show Strength. Be Resilient. Be Tough. Be Fair. Be compassionate. Admit weakness.
- Cheer. Rally. Celebrate. Recognize. Recover. Regroup. INSPIRE.
- Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. BE ON.
Jon Bon Jovi’s Take On Leadership…
I watched Jon Bon Jovi on Oprah’s Masterclass TV series a few months ago. I really enjoyed his take on leadership and wanted to share it with you today:
“You have to lead by example. You have to be a good listener. You have to be a good friend. You have to know when to take a punch, and when to give one. Share the spotlight and take the spotlight. Love one another unconditionally, but push each other more than anyone else would.”
Pretty great quote from somebody you probably thought was just a rock star!
Have a great day!
Recognizing Other’s Efforts Can Go A Long Way!
I was working at my first job out of university and was having a blast. But it was tough – long hours, cold weather and demanding work. I was on an awesome team and learned a lot every day.
I don’t remember if I received an annual performance review, but I remember being at the office one day thinking,
“I wonder if my boss thinks I am doing a good job?”
Within a few days a co-worker came up to me and said that the manager had mentioned to him that I was doing a great job.
To this day, I still remember the incredible feeling of satisfaction. It was instant validation for all the hard work that I had put in. The funny thing was that it was not even said directly to me!
You can make a difference with your team or coworkers.
- A simple thank you
- A pat on the back
- A special mention at a meeting
- Treat them to lunch or a refreshment after work
- You could even get wild and crazy and let them leave early on a hot summer’s day!
None of this is reinventing the wheel. People just want to be recognized for their efforts. Making them feel appreciate will go along way for them sticking around and having long prosperous careers with your organization.
The Five Star 5 – See, Leadership Can Be Simple!
Sometimes as leaders, coaches, or people of influence in general, we over think how to motivate teams.
Several times last year, my son’s hockey team of 4 and 5 year olds had one hour power skating lessons. I was amazed by the instructor’s ability to keep them interested the entire time, even with sessions as early as 6 am on weekends!
This list should seem obvious to us all, but how many of these simple points do we miss with those that we lead?
- Smile, encourage and be enthusiastic
- Have fun and make them laugh
- Know the audience, relate to them on their level
- Be engaging – ask great questions that they will be eager to answer
- Fully explain what you want them to do. Leave nothing to the imagination
Is Your Team One-Dimensional?
One of the professional hockey teams that I follow closely have had consistency issues all year. It is hard to believe that they are still struggling considering they were awarded the #1 draft pick three years in a row!
It has become increasingly clear over the last while that there is one glaring issue that plagues the team. They have too many of the same players. The team is one-dimensional. The skilled players are very talented but are too small and don’t have grit. At least some players need to possess all of those characteristics.
This situation got me thinking about sales teams and corporations in general.
How effective is a sales team if there are too many hunters or farmers, or perhaps too many quiet reps or outspoken ones?
A good mix of players is an integral part to a healthy, vibrant team. The team needs to feed off each other’s strengths and support each other while improving their weaknesses.
What about for a corporation in general?
If the sales department is performing well, but manufacturing and accounting are a mess (as an example), there will still be struggles overall. If manufacturing is firing on all cylinders, but everything else is having issues, the company is still “broken”.
I have always been a huge proponent of “temporary job trading”.
Do the role of somebody in a different department for even a day to get a better understanding of what it takes to perform their job. Maybe you won’t get so annoyed with them, and have a new appreciation for what they actual do!
Work to cross-train employees so they aren’t so one-dimensional. There will be a greater chance of mutual respect within the team if they have a true understanding of what everyone else is doing each day.
Sports teams, sales teams, and companies as a whole thrive when everyone is working together. Diversity within a team is healthy, and understanding what everyone’s roles are reduces tension within the group.
Think back to the controversies that are often made public when certain superstar players don’t make an olympic or other highly competitive teams. On the surface it looks like a glaring omission. In reality it is a strategic move by the management team to put other role players in that position. A team cannot be made up of only superstars. It rarely works, and the odds are against from the get-go.
When Are You At Your Best?
– Wondering why a presentation went so poorly?
– Bewildered by the lack of success of phone cold calls?
– Amazed that a sales call was less than well received?
– Frustrated by the difficulty catching up on paperwork at the end the week?
– Have you thought about what time of day you are typically at your best?
– Do you know when you should not be attempting high level activities?
Take some time to think about this as you plan your next week. This is often overlooked as schedules are planned.
– If you are not a morning person, is it reasonable to expect to hit a presentation out of the park at 8 am?
– If your body and mind is starting to wind down after 3 pm, is that a good time to be starting to phone cold call and expect to be energetic and engaging?
– If you tend to feel sluggish right after lunch, should you be scheduling a sales call shortly after you eat?
– If your organization skills need work, should you be putting off cleaning up all of your To Do’s until late Friday?
I can do a presentation at 8 am because I am a morning person, but I try to avoid them later in the day. Certain people are much more effective well in to the afternoon. Cold call when you are at your best for maximum results.
Lunch affects people differently, so plan your afternoon calls accordingly. I am guessing few people look forward to cleaning up their To Do’s late in the day Friday. Put systems in place to keep up during the week, so you don’t end your week on a bad note!
– When are you at your best?
– Are you working to your body and mind’s strengths?
– Is it time to make adjustments to your schedule?
Do You Have “It”?
All I wanted to do early in my sales career was manage the team that I was working on. I was young, I was new to the industry and I thought I knew it all! I was confident that some day I could handle the role. Unfortunately changes happened within the company, and I turned down my dream Sales Manager role when it was finally offered to me. Even with that setback, I have continued to follow sales and executive management throughout my career.
I did have some experience managing a team before I was ever interested in Sales Management. I was a Branch Manager in the car rental industry straight out of university. It was a great experience, and certainly taught me a lot about managing a diverse group of associates at a young age. Some of the employees were more than ten years my senior, and I learned very quickly how difficult being in charge could be.
The Sales Manager is arguably the most important person within the organization. They have a direct line of communication with the sales force; the associates who drive most of the front line revenue.
It can be very easy to get in to a rut with your day-to-day role. Sales reps certainly do, and it happens to managers as well. It is valuable to take a step back and think outside the box sometimes, from how you typically manage.
Great sales managers use enthusiasm and excitement to their advantage. They celebrate their team’s wins, while proudly announcing personal and team achievements. They may high-five team members in the office, or keep it simple and just pat everyone on the back when there are reasons to celebrate. The positive energy does wonders for everyone.
I have always been keenly aware of my manager’s actions, and I focus on a few areas:
- how they lead the team
- how they treat me
- how they treat other reps
- how they handle adversity within the team
- the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor and others on the executive management team
If they excel in all the above areas, they probably have “it” with their team. “It” is hard to explain, but it can be summarized as the group is firing on all cylinders, and no issue is too great to break the cohesiveness within the group.
I have reported to a total of 16 assistant managers, sales managers and branch managers during my career. I have also had close working relationships with 12-13 executive managers. This has provided me a rich foundation of experiences.
- As a manager what is it like to have “it”with the group of reps that you lead every day?
- If you have “it”, you can probably describe “it” in general terms, but it may be hard to explain overall.
- If you have never had “it” with your team, would you not like to know how to get “it”?
As I continue to discuss Sales Management in the future, I will build on the theme of having “it”. I will leave you with one other thought to ponder….
Are you just a boss to a group of employees, or is their much more depth to your relationship with the team?
Are We Expecting Too Much Too Soon?
My son played his first season of baseball this past spring. For many other kids on the team, it was their first season playing as well. It was a much different experience for everyone as compared to the kid’s first go-around with other team sports like soccer or hockey.
With those other sports, the concepts were pretty simple in theory as the kids could get out and chase the puck or ball and just spend time familiarizing themselves with the games and being part of a team.
Baseball was a totally different story. Batting was mostly straight forward for them, but fielding was an adventure! All of the parents and coaches were doing their best to help out, but the poor kids were always very confused from the moment the ball was hit. Although quite funny on the surface, you had to feel for them when they all froze in place. Their “memories seemed to erase” and never knew what to do when the ball came their way. At one point or another, most of the parents wished they could get out on the field and make plays themselves!
As I reflected back after the season, our expectations for the kid’s performance on the field was way too high, especially early on. We were asking them to complete very difficult tasks with many people trying to give them directions in pressure packed situations. I did not even start playing competitive baseball until I was 9 or 10 years old.
The first coach was unable to handle the anxiety of helping the kids get up to speed. The second coach was awesome! They stepped right up and said that the kids needed “one voice” to listen to. From that moment on, things ran much smoother for the rest of the year, and the team won a bronze medal at the year-end tournament.
That story inspired this post, as I related it to being new to a sales role or the profession in general. Most of the parents were guilty of expecting more from the kids then they were able to give early in the baseball season. Many sales managers and executives are guilty of doing the same with new reps.
I am a firm believer that the pressure to perform should be minimal for new reps as long as possible. Three months should be the bare minimum that a rep focuses on learning everything about their new role, and not have a manager looking over their shoulder and expecting immediate results.
The “learning/training phase” should be even longer for new reps to the profession. Sales can be generalized as an easy job where you can make a lot of money, but new recruits need to understand that a lot goes on behind the scenes to be able to do “fun stuff” like take customers out golfing, or have long lunch meetings!
Product knowledge is typically the focus for new reps, but there are many more aspects of being a territory manager that need to be analyzed before being “thrown into the wild” and expected to come back with orders. It is not realistic, not fair, and is one of the biggest reasons that new reps quit in such a short time.
Most companies are continually under pressure to put up numbers, and that unfortunately comes at the cost of giving new reps the training and support that they need from the day they start the role.
I would rather sacrifice sales results in the field while new reps gets their feet wet, and properly equip them and held grow their confidence so when they hit the road, they are ready.
The most common words coming out of a sales manager’s mouth should not be,
“How can I help you close that order?”
That makes them a one-dimensional leader.
If a manager wants a rep to prosper and succeed long-term, they will help them dig deep in to all aspects of the role, understand their territory, customers, support staff and company. Then, AND ONLY THEN can they start talking about getting in to the field and securing business.
- What training have you received for a new role (other than product knowledge)?
- Have you ever quit a sales role and realized later that you did not give it enough of a chance?
- When should new reps start focusing on actually closing business?