Have a Bad Boss? Ready to Quit? Consider This First.

I was recently asked to elaborate on a boss I felt I had learned the most from throughout my career and why. The answer came easily to me: it was the worst leader I ever had. It was something I had already thought about in great detail. They didn’t teach me anything, they didn’t develop me to be better… no, they don’t get any credit. With the right attitude in this situation, you can learn and push yourself more than you ever have before.

What’s your definition of bad?

I have been fortunate enough to learn from and work for some amazing and phenomenal leaders. I am eternally grateful for each of them, and all the things they’ve taught me that I still carry in my tool belt today. This is a vast majority of my experience, and I consider myself lucky and grateful for that. Everyone has their own definition of a bad boss, but I think those can vary depending on the situation and circumstance. No one is perfect, we’re only human – but imperfection is a long way to straight up bad. For me, anyone and any leader who owns it, could never be dubbed as “bad” – at least in my eyes. If you’re owning it, you’re making an effort to be better and everyone deserves that opportunity. Personally speaking, there are four major things that define my version of a bad boss.

The Unreachable One:Whether they are MIA or AWOL doesn’t matter, they always seem to disappear off the grid, especially when you need them the most and in the middle of rapid fire. Then long after the smoke clears and the attack has subsided, they surface. Often quick to ask 20 questions that are now irrelevant, or to emphasize the authority you don’t have on decisions you were forced to make because they were nowhere to be found.

The Oblivious One: They have no idea what’s going on, nor do they put effort into knowing. Their reality is light years away from the reality. Whether it’s due to inadequate knowledge, plain ignorance, or lack of awareness is irrelevant; they aren’t putting in the effort and they are too prideful to admit they need to learn.

The Judge and the Jury: They often say things that contradict their own actions, or vice versa. Hypocritical by holding others to a different standard than they hold themselves. Often sanctimonious, putting themselves on a pedestal of moral superiority that they publicily praise themself for, completely lacking humility. The one that asks for feedback, but quickly interrupts it with disagreement or justification.

The Politician: They thrive on office politics, making important decisions with a self-serving perspective, in an effort to outshine their competition. They battle their insecurities by surrounding themselves with inferior people, or may ambiguously eliminate anything or anyone that they feel threatens them or their position.  Easily identified as the ones that SPEAK more than they LISTEN. Using phrases like “sorry to interrupt” but then proceed to do it anyway… over and over again… like a political debate.

Sounds awful right? Well, it is. But… no matter how awful your experience may be, or what your own version of “bad” is, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of it.

3 invaluable things I learned from the worst leader I ever had:

  1. What Not To DoTaking all of the things that defined my version of bad then having countless self-reflections. This redefined me as a leader. I also learned how to recognize early signs that may suggest I was headed the wrong way, and how to change course. This taught me a new level of self-awareness and redefined how I reflected on my areas for improvement.
    • I observed. Taking an inventory of my coworkers versions of bad, not just my own. Is it a condescending one? A dictator? Micro-manager? Just because I could tolerate it, didn’t mean others could. This taught me the importance of individuality.
  2. How to Push MyselfI learned how to push myself into uncomfortable and often unfamiliar territory. I thought I was a problem solver before… but when forced to figure things out, without the choice and when people are relying on you. Wow. I took advantage of the support I wasn’t getting, and learned how to do things I didn’t know I was capable of. I built new relationships and gathered new knowledge from other parts business that I didn’t have before.
    • I tapped into a new level of resourcefulness that I didn’t even know existed within myself. It expanded my creativity and innovation in a way I had not yet pushed myself or taken the risk to do. Ultimately as a result, this gave me a different level of confidence and strength.
  3. Self DevelopmentThe importance of the investment I make into my own development.  I couldn’t sit around and wait for someone to coach me through different coping and managing techniques or to offer mentor advice based on their own experience. I had to take full responsibility for my development if I wanted to grow. This responsibility stays with you.
    • I learned a new level of patience and gratitude. And most importantly, that defeat is in the eye of the warrior and the greatest triumph comes to those who wait.

So, before you jump ship or you dedicate all your energy into trying to change them; think twice. You never know what triumph you may be missing out on.

Shout out to the ones that don’t support, teach, or protect us, and cheers to the ones that do.

#chickboss

Squashing Sales Stigma | Sales Peeps You’re Up

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, but if you need a refresher on where we’re at start here first and read through.

Side bar, I would love to hear from some critics, sales folks or not on this next infographic, or even the last one. I always appreciate the likes, clicks, and kudo texts (thank you)… but I rarely (never) hear from people disagree with my ramblings, and while I’d love to think I’m just that good – I know I’m not. 🙂 So please… by all means, don’t hold back… there is always something to be learned from someone else’s perspective.

All my fellow sales peeps… you’re up! Without any further ado, here are 6 things you are responsible for to avoid that stigma and turn around that stereotype.

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PART 3.2: SERIES CONTINUATION OF TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN THE SALES WORLD

Squashing Sales Stigma | DO YOUR PART

Hopefully you’ve had the chance to read the intro post to this topic and you’re ready to get started. As mentioned, we’ll cover two sides of ownership to squash or avoid sales stigma negativity in an organization: the business “your” ownership and the sales ownership. If it’s not immediately obvious why I’ve broken it down this way, I’ll explain. It takes an effort from both sides, sales stigma doesn’t just come to be, there is always an underlying reason for the negative perception; usually it is some bad experience another team or individual has been through and they’re carrying it around like baggage. Just like a bad relationship. You’ve got to let go of whatever it is your carrying around or it will just get worse.

I’m not trying to be mellow dramatic about this topic yall, but sales stigma and negative sales stereotypes are only hindering the success of the business and your own professional growth. Do you really need one more thing getting in the way of either of those things? I’d guess probably not. If you think this isn’t actually a thing or an issue, then unfortunately you are probably a part of the problem. Just saying. 😀  But…fear no more because today is your lucky day and we’re going to fix that by starting with YOU!

6 WAYS YOU CAN SQUASH THE STIGMA OR PREVENT IT

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No matter what role you’re in, team you are on, or where you sit in the hiearchy – there is at least one or several of these accountability areas you can impact! So let go of that baggage, stop making excuses, and be a part of the change instead of the problem!

Stay tuned for the part the sales folks own…

#chickboss

Part 3.1: Series Continuation of Transformational Leadership in the Sales World

What I Really Do: Sales Leadership

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World Continued

Part 2.1 – Sales Leadership

Let’s continue the discussion from the funny Friday meme and talk about the many ‘hats’ of an effective sales leader, and how to expand that into a transformational sales leadership. If you haven’t accepted the meme challenge from Friday – I really want to encourage you to do so to get the most of this topic; plus it’s a 5 minute fun break to pull you away from your daily grind and who doesn’t love a good meme?! 🙂

As a sales leader you have many hats to wear, both internal facing to your team, external facing to the business and also your customers. You are leading, supervising and managing your team to hit the sales number and other business objectives; you are developing and implementing the sales plans and evaluating and managing performance of your teams against this; you are developing and motivating your teams to achieve (and exceed)  revenue goals; you are responsible for their understanding on the direction of the company and the role they play in this as a team, and as individuals. You are also accountable for collaborating with stakeholders within the business so that sales requirements and challenges are understood. Working both cross-functionally and with other sales leaders to ensure the sales strategies and methodologies are aligned to the overall business objectives, and there is full support of the sales strategy from the business. Like many leadership roles, that of a sales leader is no easy task.

A very successful sales individual isn’t the only thing that makes a successful sales leader. I often see a lot of emphasis put on one’s ‘selling track record’ to define their ability to be a successful sales leader; unintentionally forgetting about all the other hats this individual has to put on, and their leadership aptitude for doing so. You must be able to recognize when to pivot between these leadership hats, and how to do so effectively. You are not only doing this with your team members and customers, you are doing it with your sales leadership peers, departmental colleagues, and superiors. This is the difference between a sales leader that is good, one that is great, and one that is world-class. 

Welcome Our Guest!!

I am thrilled to announce that I have invited Lindsey Hood, professional coach, to join in on our discussion as a guest blogger and share her insights!! Tomorrow, Lindsey will kick it off and share her perspective on the roles of an effective sales leader – so stick around, share your thoughts and welcome her!

#chickboss

What I Really Do!

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World Continued

Part 2 – Sales Leadership

Like most of us, I’m a sucker for a good meme! I mean, where did we ever find humor before the YouTube, GIF, and meme days?! Who knows! The “what I really do” meme is one of my favorites. I searched and searched for an accurate representation of a “what I really do” sales management meme, and although there are some funny ones out there, there wasn’t one that I felt captured all perceptions from my view point accurately. So, I generated one myself… of course! 🙂 Are you down for a meme generator competition?! Keep reading!

what i think i do.png

If the template had more boxes, I would have added a prospect one, with the funny image of jaws jumping out of the ocean with the kill in it’s mouth! If I could have split the last “What I really do” image into several images, I would have also included these along with the barrier buster image shown!

I’ve been a busy bee over the last several days with a different project, so I haven’t been able to publish the continuation of the Transformation Leadership in the Sales World Series. {As a side note, if you clicked on the above link to the project I’ve been working on… the answer is no, the nursery set is not for us… and I don’t have that kind of news to share lol!}

As a prequel to the next topic in the series, I wanted to share this meme to get you thinking first. Some of you may look at it and chuckle… nodding and thinking to yourself, “yep, that’s pretty accurate!” Some of you may look at it with an entirely different or slightly varying perspective. While others may look at it and laugh, because they don’t have an opinion one way or the other.

Share Your Thoughts! MEME CHALLENGE 🙂

BEFORE I dive into the next topic, I’d first like to get some feedback from you to make the next post more interactive! You don’t have to be in sales to participate, in fact, having the perspective of both sales professionals and other professionals will make the conversation more interesting! Please take one quick second to take the MEME CHALLENGE by commenting on this entry or on any social platform with your thoughts:

  1. From your perspective of what sales managers do, what does this meme mean to you?
  2. Do you agree with all the various perceptions of the images, just a few or none at all?
  3. If you could change any part of the meme images or personas, what would you change them to and why?

EXTRA CREDIT: If you’re feeling really ambitious, create your own and share it in the comments! It can be of ANY role, or using the sales management them. 🙂 *Note, you may have to screen or snippet the final meme if your link doesn’t work!

I’ll give everyone a few days to think about it and participate, and then we’ll jump on in.

#chickboss

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World

Part 1

This is the first of a multi-post series on Transformational Leadership in the SALES WORLD. So, stick around there is lots to talk about.

Sales Operations? Strategy? Sales Planning? Enablement? OH MY! It’s amazing how many organizations are expanding their sales organizations to not only include roles focused on these critical functions – but how much of a priority it is as a part of their overall business strategy. The adoption of sales operations reminds me of the evolution of ‘procurement’ with the adoption of supply chain and strategic sourcing. As companies shifted more focus to the bottom line, EBITDA, and working capital – things like inventory turns, cash flow, cost deflation, and leveraging buying power became crucial and necessary for growth.

Quick example comparison, if interested, but feel free to skip: Despite their recent struggles and criticism, no one can argue that General Electric has been a well oiled machine for over a century; holding a spot in the top 10 of the Fortune 100 for over two decades. If you have ever worked for, or done business with this powerhouse you know that two of the most respected business functions is Human Resources and Sourcing. While GE was demonstrating the results that come from a focus on strategic sourcing for decades, the rest of the world was still trying to grasp the concept. Now, all of a sudden carrying a masters in Supply Chain Management is one of the most respected and universal fields of study for business operations. I continue to be puzzled by the lack of even undergraduate field study options in sales, but my prediction is that in the next 10 years this will be common for sales operations and strategy, and sales masters programs will follow. NO disrespect or discredit to those marketing degrees, I’m simply saying sales studies should be a more narrowed focus. [end rabbit hole]

Isn’t That The Sales Manager’s Job?

According to research in an article published by McKinsey & Company, “companies that build world-class sales operations functions can realize one-time improvements of 20 to 30 percent in sales productivity, with sustained annual increases as high as 5 to 10 percent.” But wait a minute, isn’t Sales Operations just the administrative “non-revenue” reporting data tasks? That improvement rate can’t possibly be accurate! First, I’d like to start by debunking the idea that sales operations is nothing more than sales administration/reporting; and an even more common misinterpretation that sales operations is sales enablement, vice versa – or that sales management is all of the above. If you see any of these things as one in the same, or as interchangeable then you’ve just successfully killed your chance at ever having a world-class sales organization, before you even got started. They are not the same, will never be the same, should not be treated the same, and they are certainly not interchangeable. In fact the opposite: they are all critical, both individually and as a whole. A common example I hear is that “it’s the managers responsibility to institute selling strategies”- man, if I had a nickel! The person who says this does not understand how many different sales methodologies are out there or how they are constantly evolving as the market does, and that you can have success with more than one. How can a manager successfully institute ANY selling methodology if they don’t understand what the business and organizational strategy is? How about a segmentation strategy, as another example. A sales manager that creates a territory strategy without data, a plan to execute or a program to scale will never become anything more than a colorful map. If you are too focused, or completely lack focus in any of these areas, the others suffer immensely and so does the performance of your sales team. Sales operations is about optimizing, sales enablement is about scaling the optimization, and sales management is about maximizing both. From this point on, when I refer to Sales operations, enablement and management this is what I mean:

3 sales pillars

For quick clarity, it’s important that I mention that this illustration is absolutely NOT suggesting that things like process, data, and strategy are not factors of sales enablement or management. The illustration represents the role in which each fundamental is the starting point, if you will. All sales folks, should absolutely have the ability to use data analytics or create repeatable processes, as examples.

So Then What Is It

op·ti·mize
ˈäptəˌmīz/
verb
1. make the best or most effective use of a situation, opportunity,  or  resource.

How can you maximize and scale anything before you have optimized it?

Breaking It Down

data pillar.png
strategy

3ps two

optimize.pngAs I mentioned earlier, this is a multi-segment series, on applying transformational leadership in the sales world.

Step 1: Setting up a structure that creates world-class sales organizations and cultivates transformational leadership.

This starting point is really pretty simple. Even the MOST successful sales manager in the world cannot, and should not be expected to, incorporate a focus of sales operations with their regular day job from the side of their desk, nor should any organization want them to try! “But we can’t allocate the budget it would take to do this”… you might be saying. That’s the thing though: this is an investment, and just like any investment you need to understand your return.

Stay tuned… more to come in the next post.

#chickboss

Greener Grass… So They Say

“The grass isn’t always green[er] on the other side [of the fence]…”

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it…”

“The grass is greener where you water it…”

We’ve all heard these green grass quotes. Commonly used as popular analogies to say, ‘it’ could always be worse; whatever your ‘it’ may be and the ‘other side’ being a metaphor for what may be beyond your reach, or possibilities that you may not have on your side. The grass is a symbol that can represent anything and everything pertaining to your life or a particular circumstance. The color representing what everyone wants as it relates to their own version of ‘it’ on their side: green, plush, barefoot grass. The problem I have with this is the ambiguity that there is another side, and the grass can still be greener. Even though the iterations of this quote became more meaningful by adding the water metaphor, implying that you have to nourish and work at something – it still distracts from the message. Greener? Greener than what? Another side? What if I want to water the other side after I know what’s over there? What if the other grass requires less water?? NO, NO, AND NO…all figuratively speaking of course to keep the consistency, but you get the point.

From my perspective, to get to the core meaning of this message – you need to remove ANY IDEA that the ‘other side’ exists so that you can focus. Greener is still a comparison.

One time I participated in a group exercise. We were asked to go read through a very large selection of inspiring leadership sticker quotes that were scattered on a number of tables, and pick the one that as a leader we related to the most and stick it on our learning binder. Within a couple of minutes of searching, there was the quote by author Neil Barringham: “The grass is greener where you water it.” I picked it up immediately and knew I didn’t need to look any further. Before placing the sticker on my binder, I crossed out the word greener, and Neil’s name and amended it. Rule breaker… I know! 😉 If you know me well, you know that in addition to hearing “own it” – there is another phrase I also say often:

green grass

It’s simple. If you want green grass, then water it, and that’s the only green that matters. Stop comparing it to an illusive side, closed box or different versions of ‘what if’s’. These are just distractions. This doesn’t mean that you forget about all the possibilities, it means that you realize the possibilities are where you want them to be.

Do you have a favorite ‘green grass’ or inspiring quote? Maybe it’s one of the above I mentioned or a different one? What does it mean to you?

#chickboss