Self-Leadership: Have You Prepared Yourself to Lead?

Sandra Dillon: February 9, 2018


“Leadership” has become the new buzzword with people aspiring to be recognized as a leader either informally or by having leadership positions and titles? People are judged more than ever on their leadership skills. I overhead someone say he didn’t get a management position, because he didn’t have enough leadership skills. He then followed this comment with, “How am I supposed to get leadership skills, if they don’t give me the position?” What some fail to realize is that leadership skills are easily developed and honed without having a title or assigned power. Leadership is about influence, and the first step is preparing yourself to lead well before trying to lead others.

How does one prepare for leadership? The first and probably most important step is self-examination. Most people think they are good at sizing up other people and fail to realize they don’t have the same ability to accurately size up themselves. We use a different leadership-underconstruction2lens to judge ourselves than we do others. People are programmed to see themselves in a more positive light than they are—perhaps this is a design of self-preservation.

When you look in the mirror, what do you think people see? We must get honest with ourselves, so we can work on our deficiencies, play to our strengths, and be the best version of ourselves. If you struggle in trying to see yourself in the way others do and want to take steps toward improving your self-leadership, below are options to help you get that accurate feedback.  [Note: Receiving feedback is hard, even when it’s for our own benefit.]

  1. Ask trusted colleagues, friends, and even family what habits and traits you have that are causing more harm than good. How do these attitudes and behaviors affect your relationships? If you can’t think of any people that you can trust with these questions, what might this say about your leadership?
  2. Review your interactions at work, home, and within your community. After each encounter, critique yourself on what you did well and how you could do better? Identify areas of specific improvement even if incremental. What words could you have shared or action taken that may have resulted in a more favorable outcome for all involved.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you have a difficult timing thinking of these, consider taking the Clifton Strength Finders survey.
  4. In your area(s) of weakness, have you made a commitment to improve? Likely a weakness will never become a strength, but can you shore up your weakness so it doesn’t cause undue hardship. If you can’t improve it, can you cover it in a different way such as partnering with someone who has your weakness as a strength?

Leaders know the grave responsibility that comes with leadership and caring for the well-being of those they lead. Leaders are gifted in different ways, and although no leader is perfect, he or she knows his limitations and ensures others get the best of what he or she is capable.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Don’t Confuse the Value of Management and Leadership

Sandra Dillon: February 7, 2018


A decade ago, people aspired to be promoted to manager or reach a specific management level within their company. There now appears to be a preference in being called a “leader,” implying that a leader is superior in some fashion to the role of a manager. Instead of referring to the top echelon as senior management, the trend is to call that team “senior leadership.” The truth? By definition a manager and a leader serve two different roles; therefore, comparing the position of manager and leader is like comparing apples to oranges.

managers leaders

Different Needs, Different Roles

Managers ensure they and their reports carry out the company’s mission, ensure compliance with systems and processes, accept and complete assigned tasks by due dates, and keep an eye on the bottom line. Managers are asked to focus on the short-term view. On the other hand, the role of organizational leaders is to create vision and mission, focus on influencing change in people and processes, and challenge the status quo for the sake of improving the company. Leaders are assigned to look toward the horizon, design a vision, and determine how to move the company toward that future.

Both positions, with their unique set of responsibilities, should be valued in their own right for what they contribute toward the health and growth of the company. The role of manager should be recognized and celebrated for its value, even if it doesn’t come with the responsibilities or title of leader. In smaller companies, sometimes the roles are blurred and embodied in one position or person. We should recognize that everyone wins when managers leverage their leadership skills, leaders appreciate the value of managing skills, and they all work together for the betterment of their employees, customers, suppliers, and community.

Title Assigned, Title Earned

The reality is that not everyone can be crowned with the title of manager, but anyone can be knighted with the title of leader. Why? Because in truth, leadership has never really been associated with a position but rather a way of being. True leaders are never assigned their position but earn the title by what they’re able to accomplish through influence. Everyone has the ability to influence. Your influence will be a direct result of how your present yourself, what you think, what you say, and what you do. The result will be how you affect change in people, processes, and systems. The big question everyone should be asking themselves: Have I prepared myself to lead well?


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

 

Business Trust: Its Importance, Value, and How to Build It?

Sandra Dillon: February 3, 2018


Trust 1In leadership circles, it’s well known that to move people from where they stand today to a better place of tomorrow, a leader not only has to paint a compelling vision of the future but must also convince them that standing in their current comfort zone is unacceptable. If you agree with this concept, you may be asking how does this apply in building organizational trust. I’ve heard managers and functional leadership agree they “want more trust,” then make decisions and act in ways that show their employees they don’t value trust.  They’re not uncomfortable enough with the level of distrust operating under their leadership.  Why?  Perhaps, they haven’t suffered from or come to appreciate the magnitude that distrust has in undermining their business’s vision, mission, and goals.

Why Trust Is So Important

Without trust, you can’t build anything of sustainable value. Since trust is the foundation on which business relationships are set, creating trust should be a business’s number one priority. Without trust operating throughout its culture, a business is vulnerable to silo-ed decision-making, information hoarding, and higher employee and customer turnover to name a few. These behaviors directly increase costs and slow down response time. Employees, customers, and suppliers come to realize that for someone to win, another must lose, so everyone makes decisions to protect their position.

After food, water, clothing, and shelter, Maslow’s second hierarchy of human need is safety (security). In business, colleagues, customers, and suppliers first seek to answer the question, “Can I trust you?” If someone can’t affirmatively respond, a healthy relationship won’t develop.

When enough people on a team feel they can’t trust one another, the culture becomes distrustful and then toxic. Interactions become finely crafted dances to ensure that neither is hurt in the process. The energy of the organization goes into managing distrust as opposed to creating value and meeting goals.

Why Trust Is So Valuable

In a trusting business culture, people feel connected. They know that for someone to win, somebody else doesn’t have to lose. They’re a team working collaboratively with transparency and driving on their individual strengths. When people feel respected and appreciated, they go the extra mile. They don’t hoard information like a distrusting culture where information is power. A collaborative culture achieves increased creativity and problem-solving, resulting in more satisfied customers and profits to the bottom line.

How To Build Trust

Some think building trust is treating people well, forgiving mistakes, and giving lots of praise. Not exactly. Although these behaviors exist in cultures of trust, Brown (2017) describes specific elements that must be consistently practiced and reciprocated over time to build trust.

  • Boundaries: Communicating and honoring clear expectations
  • Reliability: Doing what you say you will do again and again [Note: It’s important to understand your limitations and not over-commit]
  • Accountability: Making a mistake, owning it, apologizing, and making amends
  • Confidence: Not sharing with others what is shared in confidence
  • Integrity: Practicing, and not just professing values, in which you may have to choose courage over your comfort or right over fun, fast, and easy
  • Non-judgment: Helping when another falters and being vulnerable to ask for help when needed [Note: One-sided help sets the giver up to feel superior over time]
  • Generosity: Believing in good intentions when the behavior is a mistake

Do People Trust Me?

This is one of the most difficult questions in which to get an honest answer, because if you have trust, people will say yes, and if you don’t have trust, people will still say yes for fear of repercussions. Because of anonymity with individual finger-pointing, it’s easier to get an honest answer by asking the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does trust operate within this company?”

If you’re a leader challenged with growing trust within your business culture, I suggest two approaches:

  • Honestly answer for yourself how much capacity you have to trust others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Work on improving your own insecurities and behaviors regarding trust.
  • Know what behaviors garnish trust and hold yourself and others accountable to make the right decisions and lead with those behaviors.

Changing culture is possible, and it takes time, patience, and thoughtful words and actions.  You must trust the process that will take you from where you stand today to a more trustworthy culture of the future.

Reference

Brown, B. (2017). Super Soul Sessions Video: The Anatomy of Trust. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewngFnXcqao


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: How to Influence People and Outcomes

Sandra Dillon: January 25, 2018


leadership is influenceThere’s a reason why Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People has been in print for over 80 years. Its longevity owes itself to the timeless understanding of what drives human behavior. With leadership synonymous with influence, leaders should embrace Carnegie’s (1964) principles in how to (1) handle people, (2) make people like you, and (3) win people to your way of thinking.

In my experience, 20% of business success can be attributed to knowledge with the balance to a person’s skill in implementing Carnegie’s techniques—meaning 80% of business success comes from how you lead yourself and engage with others. Many of these learnings come from Carnegie asking himself three questions after every encounter:

  1. What mistakes did I make?
  2. What did I do that was right, and in what way could I have improved?
  3. What lessons can I learn and apply in the future?

If you’re able to master Carnegie’s key principles, you’ll likely find yourself in the top 5% of those who can influence people and their circumstances. Below is my winning summary of Carnegie’s best.

Successful Techniques in How to Handle People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Instead try to understand people and why they do what they do. Humans naturally have prejudices and are motivated by pride and occasionally vanity in their words and actions. Criticism only puts a person on the defensive, incurs resentment, and causes him* to justify himself.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation. A strong human need is the desire to feel important which is why people crave appreciation, especially from their superiors and those whom they respect. Be careful with flattery—otherwise known as counterfeit appreciation—which comes across as insincere.
  3. Focus on what the other person wants and show him how to get it. Unselfishly serving others brings enormous advantages to the relationship.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people as opposed to trying to get people interested in you. Help others in ways that require your time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness.
  2. Smile, smile, and smile. Your smile is a messenger of what’s inside you, and it has the power to brighten someone’s life by conveying “I like you” or “I’m glad to see you.”
  3. Remember a person’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to him. Use it generously, and spell it correctly.
  4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask people a lot of questions and validate the stories and words they share in conversation.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Talk about the things the other person treasures most.
  6. Make the other person feel important. When people believe you sincerely think of them as important and appreciate them, they will respond positively to you. Reflect on something you can genuinely admire and then recognize them for it.

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid an argument. You can’t win an argument, because if you lose it, you lost it, and if you win it, you lost it. Why? Because someone who has lost an argument feels inferior, has his pride hurt, and will ultimately resent the triumph. The only successful way to change someone’s mind is to help him come to that conclusion himself. It’s better to manage a disagreement by trying to see the other person’s viewpoint, look for areas of agreement, and encourage him to think over your ideas.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions and never tell them, “You’re wrong. You cannot change opinions when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings.  When you hurt someone, they’re not receptive in listening to anything you have to say.
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it clearly and quickly. Stating those words clears the air of defensiveness and helps solve problems.
  4. Begin any controversial conversation in a friendly way. As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  5. Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately. Begin a conversation by emphasizing the things in which you agree. Several initial “yes” responses keep the listener moving in an affirmative direction.
  6. Let the other person do most of the talking. Think the 80/20 rule—the other person talks 80% of the time and you only 20%. Let them talk themselves into what you want them to do. [Note: This one is difficult for the extrovert.]
  7. Let others feel that the idea is theirs. Suggest, suggest, and suggest. Then let the other person think about it so much that he thinks it’s his idea.
  8. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view even if the other person is wrong and doesn’t think so. By validating the other person’s viewpoint, he will likely have a open mind to hear your ideas. [Note: Validating is not agreeing.]
  9. Be sympathetic to the other person’s desires. Validating someone even if you don’t agree will go a long way in keeping emotions in check and leaving them with a positive feeling towards you.
  10. Assume the other person operates with noble motives. People will react favorably toward you when they believe you consider them honest, upright and fair.
  11. Dramatize your ideas. Stating the simple truth may not be good enough. You may have to make the truth vivid, interesting, and dramatic in order to get the other person’s attention.
  12. Throw down a challenge. People have a competitive spirit. If you want to get things done, stimulate some competition and tap into to people’s desire to excel and prove their worth.

Practice Makes Perfect

A leader’s job often includes setting people up for success by helping them change their attitudes and behaviors. Carnegie’s (1964) suggestions to accomplish this are simply stated:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement
  7. Compliment the very trait in a person that you want him to live up to
  8. Use encouragement and make any fault seems easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

With over 30 recommended behaviors, a person may feel overwhelmed on where to start. I would suggest rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you perform on each behavior. Select three behaviors that you are committed to improve upon and brainstorm specific approaches or words that will produce a more favorable outcome. Changing behaviors can be difficult at first, but repetitiveness turns new behaviors into old habits.

In my opinion one of the most impactful behavioral changes you can make is to remove one word from your vocabulary. What word? The word “but.” “But” negates everything that was said before it and closes down the conversation. If you replace “but” with the word “and,” you’ll see a dramatic difference in where the conversation goes. Don’t be discouraged when you realize how difficult it can be to remove that conjunction from your sentence structure. New habits are right around the corner.

Reference

Carnegie, D. (1964). How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. New York, NY: Gallery Books.

*He and him also refers to she and her. He is used as opposed to he or she to make it easier for the reader.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

People Operations: Are Your Work Rules Benefitting Your Bottom Line?

Sandra Dillon: January 17, 2018


What would happen in your company if tomorrow the Human Resource Department was replaced with a People Operations Department? One answer: leadership might be taking the first step in transforming the culture by changing the labels and the rules by which it hires and engages its employees. It might be taking on some of the be

Work Rules

st people practices that Google has innovated and field tested within in its own company.

Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations, takes you on a journey of failures, successes, and celebrations within Google, as leadership tried to attract the best talent and ensure all its employees succeeded. The results? Hundreds of accolades including #1 Best Company to Work for in the United States and in 16 other countries. If you lead a business or any organization, you’ll want to study and learn from Google who delivers the latest research blending human psychology with behavioral economics.

Bock (2015) shares the people strategies and tactics that leadership can use to lead their employees and teams to higher engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and reward. Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information, and in this case, they decide to design, collect, organize, and interpret data using its own 55,000 employees spread over more than 70 countries. Several of the more well-known business conclusions Google was able to prove:

  • You can learn from both your best as well as your worst employees,
  • You should only hire people who are smarter than you in some way, no matter how long it takes to find them,
  • You shouldn’t rely on your gut but use data to predict (Some may consider this one controversial).

The three Google lessons that are not mainstream business thinking but may make a difference in how well your company performs include:

  • Taking away managers’ power over their employees: Hiring, firing, promotions, and salary actions should be done by a committee using transparent data with managers only held responsible for coaching their direct reports to succeed in their work.
  • Paying unfairly because it’s the fair thing to do: Employee performance typically does not follow a bell curve, but a power curve. Your best employees should be rewarded multiples over your average producing employees.
  • Giving your employees more freedom than you’re comfortable with: Trust your employees more.

You might be saying, “These concepts would never be put into practice in my company.” That may or may not be true, but the challenge for all leadership is to be thoughtful enough to make the hard decisions that can champion change and spur their employees to collectively produce at the next level. You’ve likely heard the old saying that idiocrasy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. How does your organization need to change in how it leads people to get better results?

Is now the time to learn from actual field results and try to see how these concepts can work in your organization? I encourage every employee, supervisor, manager, and leader to pick up this book and find one or two concepts, rooted in research, that can be applied in life and in business to engage others more.  It’s easier and cheaper to learn from the successes of others who have paved the way.

Reference

Bock, L. (2015). Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You live and Lead. New York, NY: Twelve Books.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Sales Leadership: Are You Measuring the Right Things?

Customer ExperienceMany companies define sales success based on meeting targets of revenue, gross margin, and market share to name a few. Many times, these metrics are referred to as the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which define how well a company is implementing strategy. What some companies fail to realize is revenue, gross margin, and market share are not in themselves KPIs but instead the result of executing on well-defined and meaningful KPIs. As the acronym implies, “indicators” are the things if executed well that will result in performance.

In some sales organizations that are trying to develop more predictive KPIs, I’ve come across these more common ones:

  1. Number of sales calls within a defined period
  2. Number of new prospect sales calls
  3. Number of sales connections made with a customer’s organization
  4. Number of technical demos or hosted seminars/workshops
  5. Number of tradeshows attended

What these KPIs measure is solely activity and not the engagement level or experience of the customer. Even a highly technical sale has relational and trust components embedded in the sales decision. Successful sales organizations of the future will appreciate how they must more heavily weight their behaviors towards creating a “best practices” customer experience.

Over the past decade you can see the evolution in advertising toward a more engaging customer experience. No longer are companies advertising about a product’s features and strengths, they are showcasing the experience you can have while using it. Coke commercials don’t focus on the beverage’s taste or use words. Instead, Coca-Cola advertisements are visually designed to engage you emotionally by showing you the experience you too can have while drinking a Coke. The real-time customer experience in product marketing also plays out at the higher-end outdoor clothing retailers. These stores are installing freezers, so customers can experience just how warm that winter coat can keep them before deciding to purchase.

What experiences do your customers have when dealing with your sales organization? How are you measuring the customer experience? More meaningful sales KPIs that focus on understanding and building the customer experience may include:

  1. Time to respond to customers after they make contact (responsiveness)
  2. Number of the “right” follow-ups to secure a new customer (persistence)
  3. Number of joint calls so the customer has multiple points of contact within your company (collaboration)
  4. Number of business reviews to discuss performance (customer feedback)
  5. Number of exploratory or “design the alliance” meetings with customers (partnership)
  6. Strategic use of media platforms (LinkedIn and Facebook) to integrate and involve customers with the company and its sales team (engagement)

No one KPI is the silver bullet but tracking and rewarding the right collection of KPIs that are predictive of sales success will help ensure the team meets its goals. If you’d like help in designing measurable KPIs or developing specific actions that drive the customer experience, let’s have a conversation on how we can work together.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Should Conversation with a Cup of Coffee Be on Your Gift List?

Conversation CoffeeDecember is typically a month of go-go-go, and if you celebrate Christmas, a month with an additional ho-ho-ho.  Calendars are typically filled with attending parties and holiday shows, decorating the house, cooking, and shopping for gifts to give family, friends, and colleagues.

Regardless of the traditions you celebrate, each holiday season brings to a close another year, and hopefully, also the time to reflect on what you’re most grateful by remembering those people who had the most influence on your life.  I would imagine these people are on your gift-giving list.  If so, the perfect gift might not be wrapped, but instead may be your time in meaningful conversation over a cup of coffee, where you share how important they are to you and why.

I’m part of a generation that grew up writing thank-you letters by hand. As Christmas approaches, I write at least three letters to those who had the most impact on my life that year. They may have done a great kindness, influenced my life for the positive, or changed my thinking/perspective for the better.  Many who’ve received my handwritten letters shared how much they cherished them.

I realize that some people struggle in selecting the right words to express themselves on paper. Although writing may not be a strength for everyone, gratitude is easy to come by.  By whatever means you decide to share your gratitude, your recipient will welcome your words. If writing is not your style, pick up the phone and invite your family, friend, or colleague to share a cup of coffee.  Tell them you have something important to share with them as you celebrate the holidays.


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 their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: How to Build High-Performing Teams

Performing TeamsMarcus Buckingham (https://youtu.be/MtaINQHWMt0) has studied team performance and concluded that the extent to which team members agree with the following eight statements will predict the degree to which any team will be high-performing.  These statements relate to how members feel about their personal participation and interaction with the team.  The only valid answers are those expressed by each member regarding his or her own experience.

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  3. My teammates have my back.
  4. I have great confidence in my company’s future.
  5. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  6. I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work.
  7. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
  8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow.

In my view, this field research should cause every leader to pause and ask of themselves several questions:

  1. Do I as a leader have a well-designed mission? Am I clearly and consistently communicating that mission to my team?
  2. Am I leading with a core set of values? Am I hiring and adding to the team those who inherently share these same values?
  3. Do I develop and sustain a culture that fosters winning as a team, while at the same time recognizing and rewarding individual contribution?
  4. Do I clearly define the objectives and expectations for my team?
  5. Am I aware of my team members’ strengths and weaknesses? Do I purposefully empower them to drive on their strengths and provide opportunities to challenge them?

High performing teams can be designed when you understand the key parameters involved in constructing a winning team.  You no longer need to cross your fingers and rely on luck.  If you would like help determining what and how to strengthen any team dynamic, reach out for a conversation.


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 their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

How to Successfully Transition from Field Sales to Sales Manager

sales manager 2Most sales manager positions are filled through the field sales pipeline.  Although sales person and sales manager both share the word “sales” in their titles, their roles, responsibilities, skills, and schedules are different unless the sales manager has the dual role of sales.  In fact, some highly successful sales people do not enjoy or make the best sales managers. However, if your expertise is sales, and you are now responsible for managing a sales team versus only yourself, below are some strategies that might set yourself up for success in your new role.

Organize Your Time

As a sales person you likely had one primary goal—meet your sales target.  As a sales manager, you will be managing multiple people, programs, and priorities. Multi-tasking will be required, because you will likely be pulled in several directions on a daily basis. Although everything will seem urgent, one of your most important assignments will be to manage and lead your sales team.

Leveraging a 2-month rolling schedule, you should block out time to travel with your sales people as they visit customers.  Treat this time as untouchable.  You will use this valuable time for those one-on-one conversations to strategize, coach, and invest in your sales people so they feel part of the team.  While spending time with them, keep the phone turned off to minimize distractions.  Spending time in the field will also allow you to get a pulse on the market, gather first-hand information on your customers, and strengthen your relationship with your sales team.

Manage Your Boss

If you were a sales person meeting your sales targets, you likely did not have to manage your boss. Your focus was managing your customers.  By default the numbers managed your boss.  Your boss likely left you to your own devices as he focused on more pressing internal demands.

In your new role as sales manager, you may need to manage your boss to minimize your daily distractions.  Using your calendar, establish a reoccurring weekly meeting with your boss—preferably on the same day and time of the week.  Agree to save items to discuss during this uninterrupted time. This ritual should help to minimize daily distractions that break your concentration.  Prior to your regular meeting, send an email listing the topics you agreed to discuss.  If you overlooked any or your boss has additional items, you can add them to the list and still have time to prepare.  One hour should be sufficient.  If you find yourself routinely short of time, agree to schedule separate meetings to discuss those weightier topics.

Exercise Your “No” Muscle

You were your customers’ advocate for price, quantity, quality, and service.   You were chartered and commissioned to sell.  Because you were conditioned to say “yes” to the customer, telling the customer “no” was likely a word that made you feel at least slightly uncomfortable.

A sales manager has a responsibility to weigh all the benefits and costs from the customers’ requests and make a decision that is aligned with the overall interest of the company.  Successful sales managers typically find they say “no” more frequently than they did as a sales person. Get comfortable saying “no,” yet be open to negotiation and compromise.

Build Alliances with Internal Stakeholders

As a sales person, you were by design externally focused on winning your customers’ business.  You likely spent little of your valuable time developing strong relationships with the internal stakeholders beside Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  The reality—no one in the office was buying the products you were selling.

The sales manager position is part of the company’s leadership team, and in order to lead well, you will need strong relationships with other members in Finance, HR, and Operations.  These relationships with other department leaders will make it easier to negotiate requests for deadlines and streamline work.  You are now an advocate for the sales staff, clearing the path for your sales team so they can meet their sales goals.

Putting It All to Work

Although these four guiding principles are not all-inclusive or a one-size fits all, incorporating some or all of these strategies will likely help you successfully transition from sales person to sales manager.  If you have any other suggestions that worked for you, I welcome your comments and stories.


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 their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Why OVER-QUALIFIED Can Deliver UBER-VALUE

Average life expectancy continues to climb with Americans in good health easily reaching their 80’s.  Age and financial necessity are influencing how long people are working and in what capacity.  Many seasoned professionals are trying to redesign their work/life balance and are surprised in how challenging the process has been to secure that desired lower responsibility job.

As a coach, I see many clients in their late 40’s and 50’s who have had a long and expansive career and are eager to either transfer their skills to another industry or gain back more work/life balance by applying for jobs in whichadding value they are knowingly over-qualified. These career or job changers initially assumed it would be easy to step down into a position of less responsibility.  On the contrary, they were surprised at the inherent prejudice in the hiring process when they routinely encountered managers who were not interested in interviewing an over-qualified applicant.

I can only assume that these employers are fearful of over-qualified candidates that will leave as soon as a better job comes along or that the supervisor feels threatened by the candidate’s experience in a direct report role.  For these reasons, many over-qualified candidates appear to be intentionally passed over.  I propose 5 reasons why hiring an over-qualified person may be the best hiring decision a company could make this year.

  1. Value, Value, Value: Over-qualified candidates understand a company pays for the roles and responsibilities of the position and not the qualifications of the person. If this candidate is willing to accept a competitive salary, a company is certainly getting more value for its money. What a great return on investment to report to the stockholders.
  2. Faster Growth: Having already seen and done that, over-qualified candidates may be able to get the team where they want to go faster.  Prior experience and learning can be helpful in developing a more effective strategy and in executing plans well.  Experience is a great asset!
  3. Mentorship: People who intentionally accept lower responsibility jobs usually enjoy mentoring less experienced colleagues. These over-qualified candidates are both knowledgeable and capable of becoming trainers and mentors to other employees without a great investment of other resources.
  4. Performance: Not only do these candidates bring a wealth of information, they are typically happier with their work/life balance. They bring an energy to work that can be contagious.  They perform well in their jobs and set an example for others.
  5. Leadership: Companies need leaders throughout the organization.  Leaders are the ones that companies rely on to rally the organization and get the job done.  Over-qualified employees inspire and support others to perform well and are usually the best cheerleaders on the team!

Not all over-qualified candidates will necessarily be a good fit.  I acknowledge some candidates apply for jobs they are over-qualified for based on financial necessity and continue to look for an upgrade.  There are, however, many overqualified candidates who are intentional in finding an environment where they can contribute despite a salary below their historical pay grade.  Identifying these over-qualified candidates, who bring uber-value, is best handled through a conversation versus making assumptions on why they applied for the position.


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 their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.