Last year I created a video series called, “Sales Secrets of the Top 10%.” We give it away for FREE on our website, so if you haven’t grabbed it yet, please do HERE. I created that series because I wanted to debunk some of the myths about what it takes to be in the top 10% so you, too, can discover the skillset that top earners share (and you can emulate it).
What I didn’t really talk about was the leadership qualities of the top 10%. I guess because I’ve been in the sales “space” for so long, I really didn’t think it was my place to talk about leadership. Yet, as my clients continue to grow their businesses and increase their visibility in their space, I finally felt like it was time to talk about leadership and my viewpoints on it because it’s a big part of our conversations these days.
First and foremost, I think there are a lot of great books on leadership including Jim Collins’s “Good to Great,” Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” I’m certainly not an expert in this space nor do I espouse to be because a lot has already been said about the qualities of great leaders and excellent leadership. I’m not going to rehash all of that here because I’m sure you’ve read a lot about them or took a class. But, there are a lot of things that are important about leadership that I’ve learned along my own journey that I want to share with you because they are important in the arena of sales and business.
Years ago someone asked me if I thought leaders were born or developed. It’s sort of that age-old question. I remember answering that it’s both. We are all born with some leadership qualities and others we learn along the way. But I also think that we might be asking the wrong questions regarding what makes a great leader.
Whether someone was born with the great characteristic of a leader or they developed those innate qualities doesn’t really matter. In my opinion, I believe what matters most are two things: 1.) How someone shows up in a room full of people (confident and caring or arrogant and aloof?) and 2.) How someone treats every soul, space and experience they come across.
Why do I think these two things matter? Because I see a lot of people who consider themselves to be amazing leaders, and they even espouse their beliefs and values on their team and the people around them, but they treat others like they are better than them. They show up arrogantly, as if that is what will get people to follow them, and they leave people feeling worse about themselves than when they first connected. No matter what, that will always cancel you out when it comes to being a great leader.
One of the greatest stories about leadership involves the founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy. I once read that not only did he treat everyone like family, but he also cleaned up in the bathroom at every place he visited. He never left paper towels on the floor, or trash on the ground and he lived by the motto, “Leave it better than you found it.” And from what I’ve read, he also did the same for the people around him—left them better than when he first connected with them. To me, that’s excellent leadership.
Great leaders see the good in others and they build on those strengths. When I was in corporate America and managing a lot of people, my personal motto was, “Instill goodness and inspire greatness.” I really cared about my team. I expected them to do the right thing and we worked through the challenges. I wasn’t a perfect leader then and I certainly am not a perfect leader now. But leadership isn’t about perfection; it’s about being real and knowing that we all make mistakes at times. And that’s okay. It’s how we handle those mistakes that matters.
So, why does this matter to the world of sales? It matters because when you lead in your industry, or when you are leading your team, it’s about being the most authentic and “real” version of you. It still means setting strong boundaries, but most of all, it means you treat people with great respect while instilling goodness and inspiring greatness. I promise that when you do these three things, others will naturally follow you and your sales will grow.
I understand that it might be tough to take that extra step with people when you are worn out or feel like you are working really hard. Yet, how you show up (are you showing up as confident or fearful?) and how you treat others and the spaces you travel through (do you leave people and spaces better than how you found them?) might be the two things that take you from where you are today to reaching even beyond your greatest stretch goals.
P.S. If we can support you in any way, please let us know. Or, grab a private sales strategy session with one of our Master Coaches to talk about how you show up as a leader in your industry. Just click here!