In life, and in business, the one thing you can guarantee will continue to happen is change. With technology advancing at a rapid rate of knots, new companies coming onto the scene disrupting existing markets, and in many cases, creating new markets, it is critical now more than ever, that we, as sales leaders, adapt to change, embrace the opportunities that are always in front of us, and set a compelling example for our team. The fact is if we stand still and watch what is happening, we will be passed. As the old cliché goes, ‘some people make it happen, some people watch it happen, and some people wonder what just happened’. We do not want to be in the 3rd category, and I would even suggest we do not want to be in the 2nd category either. Which means we only really have 1 choice, and that is to make it happen.
Now intellectually this makes sense, and most of us can easily talk about what we need to do in order to make things happen. However, when it comes to doing what is required, this is not always as simple. Often we will get things done that are well and truly in our comfort zone, as they feel good to do, and typically will be good for us and good for the team and our key stakeholders.
However, to really embrace change and take full advantage of the opportunities available to us, we must do things that are outside of our comfort zone, that forces us to stretch. Often times these things do not feel good, however they are good for us, and will be good of the team and our key stakeholders. As a mentor of mine says on a regular basis, ‘the thing you least want to do, is the exact thing that you need to do’. And in doing this, it actually begins to expand the comfort zone, and over time, the activity will become easier to do and more automatic.
As a sales leader, it is critical that we set the example, and ‘lean forward’. In doing so, we literally must ‘rip that band-aid off’ and take action, irrespective of how we feel. To do this effectively, it comes down to a key attribute called commitment and there are a number of elements that we as sales leaders must commit to in order to take advantage of the change in front of us:
- Commit to Action – as leaders, it is critical to understand that everyone is watching you, especially your team. And we know that actions speak much louder than words. Hence it is critical that we commit to taking action. Depending on the context of the situation, this may be massive action that needs to be taken, and sometimes, it may only need to be a small step forward. A commitment to action, followed immediately by a step forward, will create momentum, and we know that when momentum is created, change can happen and outcomes be delivered. So commit to action.
- Commit to Excellence – this is critical, especially as a leader. Yes, we need to commit to and then take action, and this action must be founded in excellence. What is the standard that needs to be set? Is this standard easily replicable? Is it sustainable? Is it consistent? This comes down to making sure that we as leaders are doing the right thing, as compared to doing things right. What is the example that we want to be setting not only for our team, but for other key stakeholders, including customers? The commitment to excellence will ensure that the action taken will be resourceful and laser focused. Commit to excellence.
- Commit to You – as a leader, this comes down to the level of belief you have in yourself, not just as a leader, but also as a person. Do you believe you are capable of doing what is expected and required of you? Are you going to wait for all of the ‘ducks to line up’ before taking action, or will you take action first, and know that the ducks will then fall into line? Will confidence come from taking action or will you decide to be confident, therefore allowing you to take confident action? The key here is in backing yourself in stepping out in faith, ripping that band-aid off, and having a grounded resolve that you will be able to handle what ever is thrown at you. This will also allow you to create confidence and belief in your team. Commit to you.
- Commit to The Team – a key element of leadership is servitude, how you can best serve the team. We, as the leader, are actually there to serve the team, the team are not there to serve us. As a consequence, it is critical that we are committed to the team, that everything we do is focused on the best outcome for the team and not for ourself. This focus is one of the quickest ways to build trust. Taking action through the lens of best serving the team will place us in a very strong position to be able to deal with change and take full advantage of the available opportunities. And when combined with the other commitments covered here, we are teaching the team on how to act, allowing us to begin to leverage ourself. Commit to the team.
- Commit to Failing – we must understand that success is not a straight line, and that even when we take committed action, it will not always result in a positive outcome. And this is a great thing, because every successful person, business or organisation on the planet did not ‘achieve success’ without some setbacks. There will be challenges, there will be setbacks, and roadblocks, and there will be failures. How we handle these challenges will determine how quickly we move forward and achieve our desired outcome. These challenges are merely stepping stones to the destination and must be handled. They will enable us to build character and resilience and will ‘test’ us as to how serious we are about our outcome we are shooting for. There is no avoiding it, there will be failure, embrace it and fail fast and fail forward. Commit to failure.
As we have mentioned many times, leadership is a huge responsibility and is not for the faint hearted. We will be tested constantly, at every turn, and each test is a challenge to determine how serious we are. We will have to do things which are unfamiliar and sometimes things that we do not want to do, but this is the responsibility of leadership. The ability to do what needs to be done, irrespective of how we feel. And the best way to get it done? Rip that band-aid off!!
To your continued sales leadership success.
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Darren specialises in working with Sales Leaders to create, implement & embed a sales leadership game plan that will deliver outstanding and sustainable sales & revenue results. He is also the founder of the Australian Sales Leadership Network, a LinkedIn Group for sales leaders to share insights, strategies, resources and best practices, in order to build high quality, engaged and successful sales teams, delivering profitable and sustainable sales results. To apply to join, please click this link.