I work with a lot of sales leaders. Having been one in a previous life, I realize the challenges and the rewards that come with the job. I’ve commented many times in the past that managing salespeople is a bit like herding cats. On any given day, it can be exasperating and a bit challenging. There are days when you want to beat your head against the wall or just lock your office door for a little peace and quiet. But the good news is that there are also many moments that can make your day and reinforce why you love what you do. So how do you get more of those?
If you want to become a great coach and create a team that rocks, there are no magic pills. In fact, there are no shortcuts which can take you from coaching mediocrity to coaching mastery. No need to despair, however. Let’s look at how you can move forward.
First things first. It starts with a little honest self-reflection. As the leader, you have to do a full-frontal mirror check. In other words, you have to look at the naked truth. If your team is not performing at the level they need to be, who is responsible? As hard as it may be to admit it at times, there’s only one person’s reflection in that mirror.
Figuring It Out
The start of becoming a truly great sales coach and leader is to assess what you bring to the table? No doubt, a deep dive will reveal “the good, the bad and the ugly.” From a coaching perspective, what are your strengths and weaknesses? This isn’t just a review and cataloging of your skill sets, it’s also an understanding of your biases, beliefs, attitudes and habits as they relate to how you go about your workday and your interactions with your team.
While a self-assessment is always a great starting point, you may want to gather some data points from other sources as well. There are lots of assessments available; my personal favorite and one I use often with clients is an emotional intelligence assessment. The reason I like this instrument is because it provides and insightful examination of those attributes that can really drive your success as a coach and leader. These include things like interpersonal relationships, stress tolerance, empathy, problem-solving, flexibility and self-regard.
To do a thorough job of assessing your strengths and weaknesses, you may also want to get some feedback from others. Receiving insights from your boss, as well as from peers and your own sales team can also be highly beneficial. The key is to be fully open to receiving the information without being defensive or judgmental. If you’re really brave, have a frank discussion with your spouse or significant other and compare notes with the feedback from your work colleagues. While your partner doesn’t see you in a work setting, there are probably some traits that they are keenly aware of (both good and bad) that impact you both at work and home.
I know that receiving all this feedback is easier said than done. While we all love to hear how great we are, the unvarnished truth can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. This is another reason I like the emotional intelligence assessment as a constructive tool to add to the mix. Sometimes we are more accepting of a report that lacks the personal biases that come with our communication with others.
Throughout this whole process of your self-assessment and gaining a better understanding from others, you’re concentrating on the “who.” Who you are and who you want to be. What do stand for as a coach and manager? How can you leverage your strengths and shore up your weaknesses to be the best coach possible?
By now, you’re probably thinking, “But what about the secrets? Forget about who I am and tell me what I need to do?” To that I must reply, “Patience Grasshopper.” And if you’re too young to know the reference, it’s ok.