The world of B2B Sales continues to evolve from where it was just a few years ago. Evolution creates challenges and many companies must now re-think traditional approaches to growth. Additionally, new approaches to hiring, training, measuring and rewarding performance are also under scrutiny. Attracting the best and brightest sales people and keeping them, has taken on an increased level of importance. All of this means that leadership has to change.
To be truly effective in this new landscape, sales management must be "Electric".
Electric leaders, are trusted and energize the team and company. Their is saying that people don't leave companies, they leave bosses. Below is a list of traits that Executives should look for in leadership hires and prospective employees should value when deciding which offers to accept.
As you will notice by the theme, the list intentionally spells out the acronym, "ELECTRIC", this the most accurate word I can think of to define what sales leaders must either be or grow to become.
1) E mpower
A good sales leader wants everyone on their team to succeed. They empower their people to take risks, make mistakes and most importantly, learn. Leaders not just in sales but leaders in general, want people that can operate with a level of autonomy, great leaders, create an environment that rewards creativity without judgement or criticism for failures but encourage the ability to course correct and try again.
Great leaders understand the importance of diverse opinions and look for people who challenge conventional wisdom. Improvement often comes when someone simply asks, why are we doing it this way? Great leaders that can be trusted embrace this way of thinking.
2) L ead by example
Electric leaders lead by example. They don't sit in an office or hide behind spreadsheets, they are out in front. They take and make phone calls. They have an impeccable work ethic, they drive behavior by modeling it.
Electric leaders challenge themselves, they constantly look for ways to raise the bar on performance. They embrace change and want their ideas challenged.
3) E mbrace Feedback
Listening is a core trait of an Electric leader. To embrace feedback means to actively pursue and encourage it. It means consistently engaging in dialogue both formal and informal to understand what employees are going through. This is one of those skills that should be considered a super power for managers.
4) C onsistent
Another predictor of a leaders ability to be trusted is their level of consistency. Consistency can also be equated to a persons personal integrity. No one wants to be around someone that changes often and without warning.
When people are consistent, relationships are far more genuine, there is trust and belief that what is said, will be done. Nothing fosters confidence more than the confidence that comes from working and relating to a genuinely consistent leader.
5) T ransparency
Leaders who are open communicators are definitely Electric. Consistent messages that are clearly communicated, makes it easy for team members to learn, grow and avoid mistakes. Having someone who encourages open dialogue makes it easy for employees to not hold back what in many cases can be critical information.
Many companies fail to grow at rates that they could or should because of a lack of free and honest communication. If you employ or work for someone who lacks transparency, it is important to understand that this could prevent both the growth of the company and the team members.
6) R eal
This is an extension of number 5. The ability to be real means you don't withhold information. You don't patronize subordinates or sugar coat information. Another definition would be genuine. It is the "say what you mean and mean what you say" paradigm. If someone is not meeting expectations, an Electric leader gives feedback and also helps create a plan to improve.
7) I nvest in relationships
When a leader makes a commitment to invest in a relationship with each team member, they are making a conscious decision to trust in you. If you have ever worked with someone who trusts you, it is one of the most empowering feelings an employee can feel.
An electric leader is fully invested in the success of the collective team and the individual members. They look for ways to both enable and celebrate success.
8) C reate Leaders
If you follow sports you have probably noticed that the best coaches all have what is often referred to as the "coaches tree" This is obviously, a list of their assistants who themselves have gone on to become great coaches.
Electric leaders are informal mentors. They do the things that allow the people around them to grow and develop. Success is contagious, creating an electric environment, charges everyone who is connected.
Make note of these points, consider if your boss has these traits, it is a good indication if you as an employee are in a place that will help you become all that you can and want to be.