Leadership Under Construction
Although many would agree that leadership starts with leading yourself well, they want to know, “What are the practical steps I can take to improve my self-leadership?” I would suggest the first step involve a self-evaluation and personal inventory. Achieving clarity on the following questions can help build that solid foundation from which to grow self-leadership:
- What do I stand for?
- What do I value?
- What am I good at and what am I not?
- Am I following my passion?
- Is my personal vision clear?
- Am I excited in what I do and whom I do it with?
- Am I making decisions that honor everyone?
Bill Hybels (2009) mentions that great leaders embody several key traits. After addressing the “what and how” questions, a deeper dive into personal characteristics will continue that self-leadership inventory. On a continuum, leaders should ask themselves which traits they hold strongly and which ones they want to develop further?
- Emotional authenticity
- Commitment to collaboration
The self-evaluation goal is to become self-full, which is to attend to oneself in a way that allows one to lead self and others well. At times, leaders can extend themselves so far and for so long that they exhaust themselves and are then not able to give others their best. Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “Where will I focus my attention and where will I not?” Leaders cannot be all things to all people and should understand their limits. Leaders benefit by scheduling downtime to work on self-leadership and keep themselves energized.
Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.
On occasion we get asked, “What one piece of advice would you give a person who has just accepted his or her first sales position?” That is truly an unfair question. How do you boil down the essence of sales leadership into one slice of a whole pie? However, that question is worth an answer. Our best response would be, “Engage a coach.” Why? Because partnering with a sales coach can build a firm foundation to use as a springboard towards success.
We would expect a coach to help you leverage the following:
- Define measurable goals: Select several meaningful one, three, and five-year goals that focus on financial targets and personal growth. Without measurable goals you won’t know the direction you’re headed or whether you’ve arrived at your destination. People without defined goals typically meander and become disappointed in their lack of results.
- Focus on a vertical market: Good sales people are not all things to all customers. What area are you most passionate? Join an association in that market and become the “go to” expert. Consider certification or accreditation to bolster your expertise. Make sure to understand the emerging trends and have a plan to take advantage of the opportunities and to navigate through the threats.
- Understand your customers: Ask powerful questions of your customers so you clearly understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Be the solution seeker and problem-solver by offering answers that address their needs. Customers partner with sales people who create and offer value.
- Know your competition: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Strategize how you can navigate the competitive landscape to take advantage of their weaknesses by driving on your strengths.
- Build trust among your customers and industry colleagues: People do not do business with others whom they don’t trust unless there are no other options. Make decisions and exhibit behaviors that garnish trust.
- Leverage social media: Set up a LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and what you offer. Share and publish articles that are relevant to your customers. Make sure your public Facebook represents what you want customers to know about you. Be sure to clean up your social media of any “unwanted” posts.
- Establish a personal brand: When your name is mentioned in industry circles, what one phrase would you want to come to mind: “gets it done,” “always looks for the win-win,” or “sales leadership expert.” Develop a personal brand based on your best assets.
- Grow your leadership: Learn from the best, get a mentor, and practice leadership. One of the most powerful annual leadership conferences we attend is Global Leadership Summit (https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership). Strong leadership will not only build your sales it will build your life.
- Become a servant leader: Give of your time, talents, and treasures without expecting anything in return. When you do, don’t be surprised how people will respond to you. People will want to spend time with you, recommend you, and help you be successful.
And last, but not least, you can always benefit by going back to school to…
- Relearn your ABC’s (Always Be Connecting): Selling is about connecting and one person saying “yes” to another. People rarely say “yes” to people whom they don’t like or trust. Spend time with your customers in casual settings getting to know them on both a professional and personal level. Your calendar should be populated with customer lunch dates.
Every seasoned salesperson has one or two special secrets of the trade that may have contributed to their success; however, these fundamental strategies will build a solid sales career over a lifetime. Although every salesperson can try to implement these practices on their own, most would benefit from having a sales coach who can keep them accountable.
About the Authors:
Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in sales and new business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops on current business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.
Darin Dillon is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), 30+ year business development veteran, and active leader in the electronic security and integrated systems industry. As a business leader, he has a passion for developing long-term customer partnerships and providing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies across many vertical markets. He can be reached at email@example.com or 713.204.7035.
A recent survey (Morin, 2017) revealed that although students felt academically prepared for college, they expressed concern regarding their lack of emotional preparedness to take care of themselves, adapt to new environments, control negative emotions or behaviors, and build positive relationships. What happened? Did the cart get put before the horse? Did well-meaning parents overinvest in the academic advantage before building a solid foundation of soft skills and competencies that would allow the hard skills and knowledge to flourish? Unfortunately, many of these intelligent college students are turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of uncomfortable feelings. Heartbreaking! What can be done? My recommended solution is mental boot camp with a coach.
What happens when we don’t exercise our muscles? You would probably answer, “They get flaccid and lose strength!” This concept also applies to our mental muscle. You may ask, “What is mental muscle?” I define mental muscle as the integrated system of intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence (EI), and social intelligence (SI). It requires regular exercise to remain strong and available to solve problems.
You cannot strengthen a muscle by reading how to strengthen it or by observing someone else strengthening theirs. The only way to grow muscle is to exercise it, which means that likely you will need to put yourself in challenging situations where you will struggle and sometimes fail. No one would deny that everyone could benefit from a trainer when working out in the gym, and the same concept applies when growing your mental muscle. Everyone can benefit from a coach, who will be your partner as you work through a life plan, overcome obstacles, and get up and dust yourself off to try a different approach.
Morin (2017) found that although the majority of college students were struggling with emotional preparation and mental strength, nearly half of them felt that everyone else had life figured out but them. Little did they know that they were not alone! I encourage all young adults to reach out for a coaching partner.
Morin, A. (2017). A Survey of 1,502 College Students Revealed This Is the One Skill They Wished Their Parents Had Taught Them. The Inc. Life. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/a-survey -of-1502-college-students-revealed-this-is.html
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.