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

5 Roles of a Transformational Sales Leader

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World Continued

Part 2.3

In the last topic, our guest author and professional coach, Lindsey Hood talked about the various roles that an effective sales leader has, and when to pivot between them. In the second part of this topic I want to expand on these roles and transition you from an effective sales leader to a transformational one.

Lindsey’s insights are the foundational roles of effective sales leadership.  A Leader, Manager, Mentor, and Coach are all critical to success as a sales leader, and as she mentioned it’s difficult to get it right 100% of the time but without working towards them you’re simply a quota carrying people manager. A successful sales individual can emerge to a successful sales manager, but it takes more than instituting selling strategies and hitting quota goals to be an effective sales leader; and even more to expand that to a transformational one.

THE 5 ROLES OF A TRANSFORMATIONAL SALES LEADER

Effective, transformational leaders must step out of the frame and see the entire picture (yes, I said it again) and recognize that before they are able to even attempt doing it. This is often extremely difficult in the sales world; with the natural emphasis of sales targets as the measure of success it is easy to become hyper focused on this alone; but this is the difference in taking a sales team from good to great with long-term success.

3c3a2253-cc58-4d63-a261-b93d731abbc8

What’s your Sales Leadership style?

#chickboss

references>Series: Transformational Leadership in the Sales World What I Really DoVarious Hats of Effective Leader7 Toxic Sins go Leadership | A Key To Over Performance If Done RightAnd So The Story Goes

 

 

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

A Key To Over Performance – If Done Right

Motivation – Results because they want to achieve them

Motivation can be tricky and daunting. I often see organizations very focused on extrinsic motivation, and allowing intrinsic motivation takes a backseat. Before we dive in to what I mean, here is a quick illustration to differentiate the two types of motivation:

motivation types

Intrinsic motivation is critical to being a transformational leader, and the differentiator in motivating employees to overachievement. The art of motivation can be figured out, as long as you understand one thing: there is not and will never be a single formula to motivate employees on a mass scale. Motivation is like a tailor-made suit, designed with only the individual in mind, but first you have to know their measurements to get the perfect fit. To think otherwise is simply a missed opportunity to take your staff from good to great and achieving to over achieving. Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best:

quote-Dwight-D.-Eisenhower-leadership-is-the-art-of-getting-someone-490Sales is a great example of where intrinsic motivation can often be forgotten. “Sales people are motivated by money! Show them the money, and they’ll do it.” Sure, money does in fact incentivize sales folks – but it’s not an rule of thumb. Let me just debunk that myth with a quick story.

I was leading the creation of sales campaign – with the goal to build up a solid pipeline during what was historically a very slow quarter for our business. I pulled together an amazing team to collaborate and ensure this was the most successful campaign yet. We evaluated all of the lessons learned from past campaigns that didn’t yield the results we were hoping for and addressed them. As the team and started to build a solid plan, with enough time to prepare the execution {for once}, we knew if it just had an achievable target for the reps backed by a killer incentive we would crush it. We solicited a ton of feedback from the reps, created a simple go to market message for a focused audience, and even sweetened the deal by incorporating a lucrative incentive for our clients. The sales incentive was standard quota attainment paid via commission, a heafy heafy SPIF on top of that, and of course a healthy competition for bragging rights. {For the non-sales folks, a SPIF is basically a sales bonus usually a fixed amount based on a predefined goal – it’s not intended to replace commission}. Listen folks, when I say heafty, I mean it. Between commission potential and the bonus the rep had the opportunity to take home an extra $10K +  for closing a single deal with 90 days to do it, minimum. When you think about an average deal size and sales cycle within this prospect list, it was MORE than achievable. Wow, we were finally going to crush this one. Nope.

Making the assumption that all the reps were incentivized enough at that moment in time by cash and by competition, landed me in one of the easiest traps to fall into; assuming one motivation formula fits all. What I could have done was specifically tailored motivational ‘options’ that encompassed both extrinsic and intrinsic drivers that the reps could choose from so that they were passionate about the result. For example, some of them were looking to transition to management or expand their experience outside of sales, while others were looking for flexibility, and some to get in the field and travel to shows more, others just simply wanting a deeper connection of their impact to the business. A lot of these folks were on their way or already on the ultimate sales leaderboard of presidents club and making money, they weren’t inspired by just my little white board local office competition or the bonus. The worst part is, I KNEW ALL OF THIS…but I just missed the opportunity. It wasn’t intentional, it was simply an after thought. Wouldn’t it have been cool if I had offered a variety of things like working from home, a management development plan, a lead role in planning a sales event or cross functional project, or a front seat to the biggest trade show or conference of the year? Would it have been more work for me to create? Sure, but I can guarantee you, that kind of approach alone to customize drivers would not have gone unnoticed, and naturally would have also created even more enjoyment to preserver in support of my elaborate effort.

Don’t just ask, dig deep and pay attention!

To understand what motivates people, you must first understand where they are in their career, life or circumstance, what their goals are, and what is driving them and sometimes that means a balance of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. THESE THINGS CAN AND DO CHANGE. For example, if someone has mentioned their spouse just lost their job, their motivators at that time could be money and stability. If someone has expressed their hunger for transitioning their career or field of expertise, or starting their own thing, motivators could be knowledge and purpose. There are some opinions out there that suggesting finding this out is simple, and that you just ask them. I don’t agree with that, it certainly doesn’t hurt however, often times people do not realize what their true motivators are until they are presented with something that brings them true excitement or inspiration. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me one thing motivates them the most, only to see that not be the case.  Someone once told me their #1 motivator was having autonomy and trust from a great leader to make an impact {that’s really 3 things}, only to see when they had that, they were actually more motivated by title and status. In fact, I have even awarded role changes or promotions to folks {justified of course based on achievement and skill} that they insisted on a desire for a change and opportunity to expand their experience across the business; only to have them realize shortly there after that mastery of their original craft and more money is what really inspired them. Guiding people to their purpose to identify their drivers is not easy, but you have to dig deeper, and you have to pay attention. Your employees will appreciate this. Here are few questions you can try:

motivational questions

To sum it up folks, do not miss opportunities to motivate your employees to exceed their ceiling and over perform – not just because they have to, but because they want to. Understanding the factors behind someone’s drive and tailoring methods to achieve all types of motivation is the key.

#chickboss