I was on a plane today and ran into an old friend who is also a very successful business leader and has been running organizations for years. She is similar in age to me and at one point we had been managers together inside a large organization. At the time we were unique in our organization in that we were both female and young – under 40 running large segments of the business. Needless to say, the two of us have spent many hours over the years talking about management issues.
On this particular plane trip, we were able to arrange our seats so we could sit next to each other. For two full hours, we talked about work matters, family matters, and personal issues. As the plane was landing, we realized that everything we discussed had a common theme. Whether it be family, personal or work, effective communication was the key. But not just the way you say things, which is incredibly important, but the intention behind the message.
The Way Your Words Are Perceived Determines How Are You Received.
The most successful business leaders have a certain skill in communicating with authenticity and with genuine interest in the other party. Now, I won’t say there aren’t smooth-talking leaders who are able to get results despite being inauthentic and not really caring about the other party with whom they are communicating. But, over the long haul, the leaders that communicate authentically and with interest in their team have the most ongoing success. I am not going to quote statistics here because this is more a reflection of what seems to be incredibly common sense.
But for all you sales team leaders out there who need your team to slog it out every day in the trenches and need them to come motivated and focused every day, please figure out how to communicate with authenticity and please actually care about your people. Your team’s results will be far more impressive if you do.
Making Time for Your Team is a Quicker Route to the Results You Need.
What do I mean by communicating with authenticity? Be direct, be honest and be a leader. If you are a compassionate person then be compassionate. If you are not compassionate by nature, okay, but be human. No need to bark orders or make idle threats. You don’t have to be overly nurturing, but if you genuinely care about the success of the people on your team that will shine through. You don’t have to be huggy and nice, but you have to be interested, genuinely interested. A surefire way to show your interest is to actually learn about your people. Why do they do this job? Is there some variable compensation associated with them executing? What personal goals do they have for their life?
Great Sales Management Skills Are Developed, Not Intuited.
Remember, though, just being their friend is not being a leader. When they are not performing or are executing poorly it is your job to be honest and direct with them about what needs to change. You are doing them a disservice if you do not help them improve. If you show real interest in their success that message is much more easily delivered and also absorbed by the other party.
At Braveheart, we utilize the Objective Management Group battery of sales specific evaluations and assessments with our clients. I have found over the years that one of the most important findings determining a manager’s success is whether or not he or she is trusted and respected by his or her team. Again I have not compiled the data to make any statistical analysis to back this statement up, but I have plenty of anecdotal evidence and observation. There are plenty of sales managers out there who will hold their salespeople accountable and are task masters. Real magic happens when the manager also cares about the success of the other person and communicates honestly, directly and with compassion.
How have your communication skills impacted your outcomes, for the better or for the worse?