A Fascinating Read
The CSO Insights Sales Management Optimization Key Trends Analysis Study is typically a fascinating read. The 2013 report begins with a quote shared by Jay Vanderbreeat at a CSO Summit. Vanderbreeat is Senior Vice President of Home Entertainment Sales and Marketing at LG Electronics. In answer to the question, “What makes a good leader?” he stated the following. “The goal of sales leaders is to create more leaders, not followers.” Jay further qualified this statement. “This is regardless of role or rank in the sales leadership hierarchy.”
If nothing else, this quote should cause us all to stop and think.
Leader or Manager
For me, the question of what makes a good leader begins with the definitions of the words ‘leader’ and ‘manager’. The dictionary tells us a leader is a person who has commanding authority or influence. Contrarily, a manager controls or directs a business. Consequentially, the moment someone becomes a sales manager, by definition, they become a leader.
However, in my humble opinion, a manager leads by definition only.
We’re celebrating Father’s Day. So, I can get away with this. I hope. It’s been said that ANYONE can be a father. But, it takes something more to be a dad. Perhaps guys learn from their own father’s good or bad examples. Maybe they observe other dads. Through reading, learning, trial, and error, fathers become dads.
I believe the same thing applies to a sales organization. ANYONE can be a manager. It takes something more to be a leader.
However, many think leadership is an innate skill. Is there such a thing as a born leader? That creates a significant challenge for most sales organizations. As you have probably noticed, born leaders are in short supply. Because their skills are considered innate, even when they are found they are not replicable.
It’s a Process Problem
The truth of the matter is these ‘born leaders’ learned to lead. Leading, just like any other business function, is a logical, repeatable process. Furthermore, that’s where I believe most organizations fail to create leaders. They think it’s a ‘people’ problem. It’s not. It’s a process problem. The ‘born leaders’ in their organizations are the ones who’ve figured out a process of their own. That’s why they are typically coveted, well paid, and in short supply.
So if your organization wants to create leaders, you first have to define the process and structure by which you want people in your sales hierarchy lead. Afterward, it becomes part of your training curriculum and eventually part of your company culture. If you can’t or won’t do that, I promise you’re destined to be a business filled with a bunch of followers.
In fact, good leaders are made, not born.