Flying Past The Barriers
Have you ever watched a fly as it tries to make its way out of a room? It has a clear goal, it wants to get to the open air, where it can be free to roam and get a sun tan but it never quite manages to get there. As you watch, you can see an open window just above its trajectory but the fly is concentrating so hard on its long-term objective that it never takes a step back to break things down and work out a different way. Eventually, it loses focus and just stops trying. Have you ever felt like you were that fly in a weekly sales meeting?
That first meeting of the month, where you are set a load of arbitrary targets that you have no idea how to reach is only a little less energy sapping than the final meeting where accusatory fingers are pointed at every member of the team who has failed in their task with the exception of Jonny who was a good boy this month. Each meeting in between is only there to tell you how you’re doing against a month end target. There is no real focus. You are close to your target or you are far away You did well or you must do better. That is all.
Imagine if instead, you didn’t have weekly meetings, you had short sprints, each one focussed on shorter term, achievable targets. There is no pointless meeting on the first day of the month or punishment meeting on the last day. Instead, every 5 – 6 working days, you focus on overcoming challenges. What deals did you work on in the last sprint, what deals are you working on in this sprint and is there anything getting in your way? If a sprint target is missed, you’re not punished. The target is moved to the next sprint in order to help with the monthly goals and your team leader helps you to overcome any barriers in the way. These meetings would be short and streamlined, allowing you and the rest of the team to do what you do best. Sell. That’s called agile sales and it’s a method that I would recommend to any leader.
Something that I have noticed whilst implementing agile sales techniques within adtech and SaaS teams is that lots of the skills that are learned with this technique can also be applied to leadership. One of the key reasons agile sales works so well is the ability to reflect, reposition and refocus. It’s important to remember that good sales teams are always learning and developing and that as a leader, you should be too. Incremental, continuous improvements add up and as Brian Tracy says “Excellence is not a destination, it’s a continuous journey that never ends”.
That Shirt Is Too Tight
It’s clear to see when somebody is wearing a shirt that doesn’t quite fit, even if it’s only a few measures off being the perfect size so why do we assume that a particular leadership style is the perfect fit for every client? I can categorically tell you it’s not. I’ve learned from some of the best that being an agile leader means being able to adapt. Even the best methods need to be tweaked to fit the company objectives and the team dynamic.
Adapting Your Team
Have you ever really thought about all of the things you don’t know? There is so much. Even Stephen Hawking had massive gaps in his knowledge. Have you ever thought about why you don’t know these things? There are many reasons but one of the most important is simple. You were not born in the same place, with the same gender or to the same culture as people who do. Imagine if you had a team of people who came from different backgrounds and had different outlooks on life? Imagine the combined knowledge you would possess. Knowledge is power and that’s why diverse teams are so effective but to make them work, you need to adapt your leadership style to meet their needs.
Coaching With Emotional Intelligence
That doesn’t just mean setting targets to their perceived ability and assessing their performance, that means truly understanding who they are. What drives them, what gets in their way, what are their priorities? This is just a small part of using emotional intelligence (I’ll go into more detail in another blog) but it’s a huge part of effective coaching. Each person is different and each person requires you to slightly adapt your coaching style to get the best out of them.
From Good To Great
Being a good leader requires many skills and there are lots of books to help you learn them but being a great leader requires something extra. It requires agility. It requires the ability to reflect, reposition and refocus. It requires the determination to learn and to grow. That kind of leader inspires teams that are purposeful, honest and most importantly, successful.
I work with start-ups and larger global clients to get the most out of their teams. If you’d like some advice on how to scale up, how to lead a global sales team or how to drive growth using a proven play-book, say hello. Even if you just want to connect to discuss the life of flies (I’m not overly knowledgeable), you can find me on LinkedIn, Skype or here, on my website.