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5 Important Words For Leaders

I worked with a super-fantastic guy once. He was a senior manager that I thought could always run the company. He talked about these 5 words with respect to a leadership team. I wrote them down immediately and have always remembered them.

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5 Words Bob B Aug 4









To Give Or Not To Give…

Playing Cards In Hand

That is the question 🙂

Ever see people handing out business cards like they are dealing a deck of cards?

“Come one, come all, everyone gets a card!”

The important question is…


did you get a card from the prospect, or the networking event connection?


When you get a card, you are in control. You control your own destiny.

When all you do is hand out cards, and often forget to get their card, you wait – hoping one day that they reach out to you.

Uh-oh! Your card may end up in the garbage but you still can connect if you have theirs!

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

The Five Star 5 – “Dinner? Not Again!”

How do you spell sales team dinner? “B.O.R.I.N.G.”

Ok, it is not always boring, but over my career the team dinner concept has been uneventful most of the time. Why not mix it up and plan an event that will be memorable to the team in the future?

If you are having trouble deciding what to do, ask them! Reward the winning creative idea with a gift card.

I can honestly tell you that I barely remember anything that happened at team dinners over the years. But from my list below, I have vivid memories of laughter and fun that will last a life time. You don’t have to make a big splash with an expensive outing for this to be effective. Just try something new to show the team that you are thinking outside the box.

I could blog for a couple of weeks straight sharing stories from participating in these events:

  • Weekend retreat at a Sales Manager’s cabin
  • Go Cart Racing with the sales team
  • Movie Night with the sales team
  • Golf outings (many gatherings were at dream locations in the picturesque Rocky Mountains)
  • Professional sporting events

DO NOT Be Just A “Professional Visitor”!

It was near month end, and I had just returned from dinner during a product training trip. I opened my email to a note from my boss titled “DO NOT Be Just A Professional Visitor!”

I had never heard this phrase before in the context of a sales role, but I knew exactly what he meant. I forget the exact content of the note, but I am sure it was very colorful based on how he typically corresponded with us.

What he was basically saying was it was close to month end, and we needed to secure orders. A sale rep’s job description did not include going to just visit accounts. Clear goals needed to be made and achieved on each call. I heard him loud and clear.

Going to see accounts just for the sake of seeing them and not moving closer to securing business was rarely, if ever a good idea. Certainly build rapport with customers, and get to know personal details about them, but always have a “moving business forward” component of the call.

You don’t have to complete 10 objectives or something drastic like that on every call, but aspire for at least 2-3. When I had limited time with an account, I may have only had one goal, but I made sure it was a worthwhile one.

The sales profession can seem complex on the surface, but at the end of the day systems can be simplified to insure success long-term. Make achievable goals for each call, and do whatever you can to not stray from the plan. Anyone can go in and just visit people, but the real success stories come from those who plan and organize ahead of time, and are always thinking about closing business!

The Five Star 5 – A Collaborative Leadership List

There is an incredible amount of content available on leadership, and I made sure to research none of it for this post!

I wanted to share five key points of what leadership means to me, but I also wanted your comments to compile a longer list. Don’t research, just share what you feel! I will post the full list on my blog next week.

  • 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!

6 Categories of Sales Reps – Which One Are You?

It is easy to say that a “rep is a rep”, but when I dug deeper over the years, there are many “personas” that they could take on.  True performers typically elevate their game from “just a rep” to “sales professional” and ultimately “superstar” over a shorter period of time.

I compiled a list of the six categories of reps after being part of several sales teams over the years:

  • Raw rookies
  • Future superstars
  • Superstars
  • Steady Eddies
  • “What have you done for me latelys?”
  • Underachievers 

Raw Rookies

Raw rookies may be new to a role, or brand new to the sales profession. They are hopefully eager to learn, and make every attempt to work well with their team mates and managers as soon as possible. The first three months tend to be a little rough on raw rookies, as they are inundated with a barrage of product training and possibly other teachings. If they are not given the necessary support to become successful early in their time with a company, they are probably “thrown to the wild” and asked to fend for themselves. The first three months tends to decide a raw rookies’ fate, and management can quickly tell if the interview process was a true indicator of what was to come.

Future Superstars

Future Superstars can show signs early on if they are going to be successful. Typical signs are how they carry themselves, how eager they are to learn the role, and how engaging they are with coworkers, management and customers. They realize that it is going to take some time to understand the organization, and their products and/or services. But they know as long as they make the customer their #1 priority, things will eventually fall in to place. Future superstars will put the team before themselves, and never lose site of the fact that their day-to-day goal is to sell stuff and exceed budget.


Superstars show a lot of the characteristics that I have described under “Future Superstars”, but have achieved above average results for a longer time. Can somebody be characterized as a superstar after 3-12 months on the job? Probably not.  Any rep can fluke out and have a great few months, and then come back down to earth soon after. But if they have successfully achieved for 12 – 24 months in the same role, I would deduce that is it not a coincidence. Superstars just get the job done and continue to raise the bar to the next level. They are never satisfied, and are always looking for their next challenge to grow and succeed.

Steady Eddies

Steady Eddies can be relatively new sales reps, or seasoned veterans who have been around years. Their results do not fluctuate much from month to month, or year to year. Their consistent results make them a very dependable and reliable group that can always be counted on. They typically turn down promotions, especially for managerial roles, because they are comfortable working their territories as individuals, and like to be left alone to do their jobs.

What have you done for me latelys?

If you are a child of the ‘80’s like me, you may realize that this category was inspired by the classic 1986 Janet Jackson song of a similar name!

“What have you done for me latelys?” are very similar to sports stars that are past their prime, but are still being rewarded for what they have done before. They could be described as “lame duck” employees, who should be fired, but are not for many reasons. It has become public knowledge that they are not performing their job duties up to the standards that they set for themselves in the past, but some business is still coming in based on their reputation in the market place. In many cases they are counting the days until retirement; or for those not of retirement age, they are counting the days until they get fired.


Underachievers are not getting the job done. They never have. There could be many reasons for this, and the list is too long to assess in this post! At the end of the day, it will result in termination; it is only a matter of time. Some tend to have “nine lives” and dodge being fired longer than many expect. But in the end, they will be looking for another job, possibly even in a different profession!

  • If you are not in the sales profession yet, do you have what it takes to become a Superstar in this exciting line of work?
  • If you are in sales, what type of rep are you now, and what type should you be?
    • What changes to you have to make ASAP if it does not say “Superstar” on your business card?