SALES LEADERSHIP SKILLS TRAINING
Many CEOs and other top executives assume that sales leadership skills and effective sales leadership qualities will develop organically on their own—or that one or two sales leadership courses or trainings will do the trick. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Successful sales leadership is difficult. Building and nurturing high-performing teams is one of the most challenging responsibilities in an organization. It’s hard to see what is lacking, especially when you’re the one who’s leading.
In this guide, you’ll get the complete view and full breakdown of leader behaviors that have the greatest impact on team productivity, culture, and morale—based on leadership principles that scientific research has uncovered for us.
Table of Contents
Global Leadership Crisis
Why Leadership Skill is Lacking but Sorely Needed
Kent is a worried CEO.
Kent is the 63-year-old CEO of ProSafe, a multi-generational family-owned financial services firm with 160 employees. As the fourth generation of his family to lead the firm, Kent is a practiced and successful steward. He is very active in the business strategy including tight oversight of finances and the leadership of his executive team. Day to day business activities are led by Michael, Kent’s Chief Operating Officer.
Why is the quality of leadership important to the modern business organization?
At 68, COO Michael has more than 40 years of sales leadership skills experience in the industry experience and a proven record as a top-performing sales executive. He feels he has the energy and desire to continue to make a meaningful contribution. But his wife’s declining health and the sense that he is being pushed aside by a rising generation that no longer values his legacy approach to leading the firm, has influenced his decision to retire.
Despite leading the company to its current position as a regional juggernaut—a competitive Goliath, he has challenges as a leader and is not mistaken in his feeling that he is not appreciated by the younger managers flooding to the positions once occupied by peers who respected and revered him and his approach to leading the firm.
The younger managers and employees eschew the organizational structure carefully built over the preceding decades. It feels rigid and impersonal. Their dissatisfaction extends beyond organizational structure. They judge Michael and his team as poor leaders. Their primary issues with leadership have to do with the quality and quantity of communication and their perceived lack of personal development opportunities. They want their ideas to be heard and implemented. They want access to online leadership learning and leadership development, and they want a formal system of leadership mentoring. These are the reasons for their harsh judgments about the quality of leadership skills at ProSafe.
Michael as a leader is frustrated at the lack of understanding about the work ethic, sacrifice, and determination that built the firm. To these younger employees, the firm’s legacy is as anachronistic as the organization’s structure and those who put it in place.
On the other hand, Michael sincerely appreciates the keen minds and idealistic ideas that populate the desks and halls of his firm. They are full of bravado and self-confidence and while they want to lead, they harbor hidden leadership problems that they may not be ready. They are unsure that they can be successful. They are even more unsure about making the kind of commitment leadership will require of them.
This transition from baby-boomer leaders to a new generation with new ideas is playing out all over the world. There are not enough Gen Xers to fill all the top management and leadership roles being vacated by baby-boomers. That means many of those roles are being filled by even younger and less-experienced leaders. The dearth of experience is having a negative if short-term effect on organizational performance.
The situation is leaving Kent feeling anxious about the experience and expertise of front-line managers and leaders at ProSafe. He is unsure about how to develop the raw leadership talent that is clearly evident in his younger employees. He appreciates their enthusiasm and their ideas and he also believes in the power of disciplined execution of quality systems as a formula for business success. He is rightly concerned that a diminished quality of leadership will erode margins and profitability.
The case study above is a composite of our interactions with clients and interviews with business leaders from the C-suite, exiting baby boomers, and rising mid-level managers.
The research of the Gallup organization supports Kent’s leadership issues. In their 2019 survey, the Gallup organization asserted that fully 83% of the global workforce is not engaged. They called this a $7 Trillion problem. By 2021, engagement improved but was still woeful and unacceptable, calling 69% not engaged. A disengaged workforce is responsible for poor productivity and low performance results, soaring costs, and eroding profit margins. Gallup argues the cause of these abominable results is the poor quality of leadership.
Gallup’s report offers hope for organizations willing to take on the challenge and improve the quality of leaders from top to bottom. If it is true that poor leadership has eroded engagement, productivity, and profits, then improving the quality of leadership would elevate employee engagement. By the same argument improved engagement leads to higher productivity, more revenue, and better profit margins.
This new generation of leaders is bright, capable, and full of ideas. They simply lack the mentoring, training, and development for which they yearn. The essence of leader enablement is to take managers and leaders, oozing with the outward talent and potential for leadership, and provide them with leadership methods, leadership tools, and technology for leaders to exploit their natural ability and keen intellect.
Here are some of the more serious leadership problems and contributing factors:
- Everything about management and leadership is changing as baby-boomers exit leadership roles in record numbers.
- Mature leaders have habits that are considered out-of-date by their younger peers and employees.
- There are not enough Gen Xers to replace existing baby-boomer leaders.
- Bright but unprepared Millennials are expected to fill leadership roles beyond their experience.
- The mentors that might have helped these younger leaders to be successful are not available—having retired or been pushed out.
- The global leadership transition is eroding employee engagement, productivity, and profits. Gallup calls it a $7 trillion problem.
- The lack of experience with leadership methods, tools, and technology is neutralizing the promise of otherwise bright and capable leaders.
- CEOs are experiencing a rapid and inexorable change in business culture as younger leaders flood into positions previously occupied by an older generation.
- CEOs are unsure of how to develop and grow their younger leaders.
- Organizations that are ahead of this leadership crisis curve will establish a competitive advantage as they outperform their peers.
Do you feel any of this in the industry? Are you witness to any of these in your organization?
What is the key to reversing this concerning trend and help leaders become skilled enough to get employees more engaged? It’s called leader enablement.
What is Leader Enablement?
Ineffective sales leadership skills produce a lack of employee engagement. And that lack of engagement costs a staggering $7 trillion every single year.
What can possibly be done in the face of such leadership problems?
Leader enablement is about increasing the leadership efficiency and leadership efficacy of leaders to have a positive impact on the productivity and performance of those they lead.
In other words, helping leaders with leadership empowerment can do more in a shorter time, while making sure what they’re doing has the most ROI.
Leader enablement helps executives and managers to make progress toward important individual and team goals. It helps leaders to establish and maintain a competitive advantage in the quality and quantity of work produced.
Leader enablement is a leadership discipline that relies on methods, tools, technologies, training, and coaching—rather than attributes or qualities—to help leaders achieve uncommon performance results from the people and teams they lead. Leader enablement holds that leadership skill can be developed by mastering specific methods, behaviors, tools, and technologies.
It further asserts that outward leader-like qualities alone, such as charisma, being well dressed, or being glib of tongue are inadequate to the responsibilities of leading people. Leaders are most effective when they increase competitive impact, improve productivity, elevate team performance, and progress toward strategic objectives. Leader enablement helps leaders leverage their existing leadership talents and leadership strengths to become effective leaders.
Here’s one of the biggest reasons for ineffective leaders:
- Leaders of the past have often been chosen on the basis of outward attributes that have no real connection to their ability to lead teams to high levels of performance toward organizational goals.
9 essential leader behaviors
Leader enablement methods, tools, and technologies support 9 essential leader behaviors.
Effective leaders who get results…
- Develop subject matter expertise
- Inspire and Motivate
- Set the agenda—establish the strategic directing
- Assign responsibilities—implement the strategy
- Hold people accountable
- Resolve conflicts
- Make sound (data-driven) decisions
The Scope of Leader Enablement
Who can leader enablement help?
There is a strong case for improving leadership from top to bottom. Mature leaders who have sales leadership habits considered outdated by younger managers and employees can be refreshed by current leadership methods, leadership tools, and leadership technologies. Younger leaders who have all the talent and attributes of becoming effective leaders but who lack the experience and mentoring that their station and position require will be strengthened, mentored, and developed by the methods, tools, and technologies that enable effective leadership.
The most effective path is to enable the leaders that are already in place. Leader enablement helps ineffective leaders to grow and improve. It turns good leaders into great leaders. Leader enablement methods, tools, and technology expand the reach, influence, and capacity of every leader and every leader candidate.
The rest of this guide has one chapter for each of these nine essential behaviors that will make good leaders great.
Develop Subject Matter Expertise
“As a leader, He doesn’t know what really goes on with us here on the front lines.”
“Her leadership style doesn’t understand the nuance of how our product/service works.”
Have you ever heard such sales leadership accusations being expressed?
Have you ever felt the same leadership issues about your own bosses?
Here are some of the very real situations companies' leaders find themselves struggling with:
- The moral authority to lead is undermined when leaders lack industry experience or expertise.
- Lack of experience with the methods, tools and technologies of leadership undermines a leader's moral authority.
- Inexperience with basic work processes makes it not possible for a leader to inspire visions of the future in those he or she leads.
- When sales leaders lack industry expertise, it is difficult for them to assign meaningful responsibilities.
- Inadequate expertise with the leadership methods, leadership tools, and technologies that enable leadership neutralize a leader’s ability to make an impact.
- When team members judge a leader’s expertise to be inadequate or immature, it erodes their confidence. Eroded confidence in a leader’s expertise hampers an employee’s ability to be fully engaged and to follow the leader.
In 1993, researchers determined that it requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master complex skills¹. The research gained popular awareness when it was cited by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. In a recent podcast, researcher Anders Ericsson reinforced the importance of the 10,000 hour rule but he also reminded listeners of an additional element from the research. Often overlooked is the fact that the quality of teaching that a student receives is also important. A student with fewer hours of practice but enjoying the guidance of a superior teacher may perform at a higher level².
It turns out the quality of leadership matters. Leaders with superior skills in the roles they lead have a greater capacity to develop superior skills in those they lead. When leaders have specific task knowledge and expertise, they have the capacity to share that knowledge and expertise. Experts lead team members to develop levels of expertise superior to their competitors. It is easy to see how a team with superior ability will outperform others.
The case for expecting leaders to develop and maintain subject matter expertise is well made by the available research. In addition to the ability to develop essential role skills in others, subject matter experts possess the moral authority to set the agenda, assign responsibilities, and hold others accountable for high performance results. Leaders with the high moral authority of subject matter expertise can lay claim to the respect of those they lead.
Subject matter experts have the knowledge, skill, and trustworthiness to lead. For that reason, a fundamental element of Leader Enablement is leadership skills development and certification for leaders and team members.
Not only must leaders have command of industry knowledge and skill, they must have a command of the methods, tools, and technologies that enable leadership.
Griffin Hill enables leader expertise. Griffin Hill also develops subject matter expertise in marketing, sales, and customer impact—customer service, care, and success. Sales leadership training and sales leadership development options also enable leaders to effectively mentor team members in these subjects.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
And that is never more true than with who you bring on board. And yet, executives and managers and sales leaders are constantly not even willing to spend that ounce on pre-hire efforts.
Here’s where so many hiring process performance problems come from:
- Misguided hiring criteria results in inadequate capacity to meet performance expectations.
- The error of the eye directs the mind. What error leads must err.
- Leaders lack a network of business intelligence that keeps them informed about local compensation trends. Recruiting includes a clear understanding of competitive compensation including salary, wages, benefits, and bonuses.
- Lack of a system and policy makes it harder for sales leaders to recruit, hire and make the most of internal referral sources. Elite performers refer other top-performing employees. Effective leaders build a team with the best talent possible and continue to improve.
Effective leaders build a team with the best talent possible and continue to improve.
Successful leaders recruit and develop successful teams. The first step to recruiting the right talent is to determine the traits, attributes, and skills expected in the people you will employ. A leader is enabled to build more effective teams when they understand the attributes, skills and experience required to successfully contribute to their team.
Recruiters are naturally and rightfully impressed by the outward appearance of candidates. Attributes like charisma, enthusiasm, and the gift of gab shape the first impressions. Charisma, enthusiasm, and the gift of gab are helpful—even admirable—traits. There is, however, a more fundamental level of attributes that are essential. If a candidate first clears the hurdle of essential characteristics, additional skills and traits are a plus.
Three important qualities that are most predictive of a candidate’s future success and why sales leaders should consider: coach-ability, work ethic, and prior success.
Coach-ability begins with the willingness to accept and implement feedback. Ego and self-will can be valuable attributes but when ego and self-will get in the way of learning and adopting best practices, they are simply useless and hollow pride that will be a barrier to the growth and adaptability necessary to survive and thrive.
Leader Enablement facilitates the ability to assess coach-ability by devising tests of knowledge, comprehension, and application. The culmination of these tests is a role-play during the interview process. After an initial role-play, coach-ability can be tested by evaluating performance, training them in a suggested adjustment, and then retesting through a new role-play. This leadership skills process will help the leader assess the applicant’s attitude, willingness, and ability to accept and implement coaching suggestions.
The ability to stick to a difficult task, persevere in the face of adversity, and accomplish hard things indicates work ethic. Leaders should look for patterns of goal setting and achieving. Problem-solving and resilience in the face of adversity indicate a strong work ethic.
Asking candidates probing questions about problem-solving, decision-making, and action in the face of adversity will help assess grit and stick-to-itiveness. Asking about goal setting will help evaluate optimism and hope, both attributes of a steady work ethic. Probing plans to achieve goals—especially in the face of barriers—can help identify perseverance and resilience.
Success in sales leadership, recruiting and development, sales coaching, and training will help identify those with work ethic when Searching for patterns of accomplishment in their resume. Certifications can indicate industry knowledge, intentionality, and accomplishment. The accomplishment of being a top-ranked performer in personal and work life is an indication of grit. A candidate’s past experience of success can provide evidence of work ethic. It also demonstrates a habit of successful performance.
Prior success is crucial because it is evidence of coach-ability and work ethic. Check claims of previous success on a candidate’s résumé and during interviews.
Check references. Make the calls. Even better, seek out and recruit team members based on the evidence of accomplishment in their lives. Get the talent you want—recruit based on what you know about prior success.
Inspire and Motivate
Why are workers not inspired nor motivated to put in top effort?
Here are some of the typical problems plaguing workforces today:
- According to Gallup surveys, employee engagement is low—an indication that employees are not inspired or motivated.
- New leaders don’t have the experience to effectively stimulate higher levels of engagement.
- New leaders don’t have the training or tools to effectively inspire and motivate employees to produce at a high level.
- Leaders often behave in ways that distract attention and reduce focus on the activities and behaviors that would elevate performance.
- Employees are often confused about what their responsibilities are.
- Employees often lack the skill and the training to meet expectations—they don’t know what to do or how to do it!
- Employees are unclear about performance expectations, targets, and goals so they don’t perform responsibilities in a timely way.
Problem/Solution—poor engagement, low focus, easily distracted, persistent use of discretional time and attention to accomplish team goals and purposes. Occupation and pre-occupation. Don’t know what to do. Unclear about next steps.
Ancient Wisdom about Inspired Leadership
An ancient proverb sheds light on the role of leaders to inspire and motivate:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”³
Inspired leadership begins by establishing a vision. Leaders inspire when they help their people see possibilities and opportunities. Leaders motivate when they help those they lead to fix their attention on some grand accomplishment. When leaders fail to provide vision, their people underperform. They never reach their potential, and the organization fails to thrive.
The second part of the proverb is often overlooked, but it is equally instructive:
“But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
“The law,” as used here, includes precepts, instruction and orderliness. In other words, those who follow precepts, instruction, and orderliness—methods, models, and systems—happy are they. They are motivated! We are all governed by the systems we employ. The level of success we attain is directly related to the quality of our systems. No person or organization can achieve a level of success higher than the quality of their systems.
To inspire, motivate, leaders must have a vision, and they must have a method. It is not a fuzzy vision that inspires and motivates people. Team members must be able to see the grand accomplishment and the method or pathway to achieve it. Ambitious leaders inspire with a vision; they motivate with a method. Leaders keep the vision and the method in the minds of their people by instructing and modeling every day. Leaders instruct in word and deed. They teach precepts, principles, and methods, and they live what they teach. Effective leaders model success behaviors.
Inspiration draws people toward something that stirs their heart, mind, and spirit. Leaders stimulate employee engagement when they share a vision that is big enough to capture the imagination. Then, employees direct every thought and action toward the accomplishment of the grand design.
A pathway to reaching the vision helps to make it achievable and realistic. If the objective is so distant and far-reaching that people cannot see—if vision is obfuscated—it will be difficult to rally people to the cause. Method makes the vision achievable and realistic. Having a system is an integral part of inspiring and motivating people.
They encourage teamwork. They praise effort, progress, and accomplishment. Leaders motivate by displaying care for those they lead and supporting them in their pursuit of excellence.
Motivation Through Goal Setting
Leaders motivate when they help their people set and achieve goals. Work-related goal setting and achieving is a joint effort between the leader and the performer. This goal-setting pattern stimulates short-term effort in pursuit of a long-term vision. By using appropriate principles of goal setting including range goals, leaders help their people to stretch and reach. Leaders lift others and help them to achieve their full potential. They hold their people accountable and expect regular status updates and reports.
Leaders who are in tune with their team celebrate effort, progress, and accomplishment. According to Youssef and Luthans, goal setting is essential to optimism and hope, and having multiple pathways to achieve a goal leads to emotional resilience and mental toughness.4
Leaders motivate by encouraging teamwork. Teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration build esprit de corps and synergy. Teams that work together will accomplish more. Teamwork stimulates participation and a sense of belonging for team members. When groups work cooperatively, they stay focused and engaged in the purpose and task at hand.
Leaders motivate when they praise effort, progress, and accomplishment. It is okay for leaders to compliment team members for their disposition, such as “you are bright,” “you are capable,” or “you are charismatic.”
But even more motivating is when leaders praise effort, hard work, progress, and accomplishment:
- “You gave that task your full effort. Great job.”
- “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work harder than you did on that project.”
- “Your steady effort is reaping benefits. I can see the progress you are making. Keep it up. You’ll be there in no time!”
- “You deserve this accomplishment. You stayed focused and worked hard. You really paid the price!”
The motivating power of the praise increases when leaders honestly praise their people in front of their peers. Make sure to catch all team members engaged in praiseworthy activity. Be careful that public praise is proffered for all members of the team. Leader enthusiasm for performance is motivating and contagious.
Thoughtful leaders inspire and motivate when they provide support and care. They are ready advocates for the team. They seek resources, tools, and training to help their people progress and excel. Leaders show they care by providing a career path for steady growth and progression. Leaders motivate when they encourage achievement. When leaders know their team members’ names, attributes, interests, and nature, they have a greater capacity to motivate them. Finally, leaders show they care when they show interest in the personal lives and families of those they lead.
Some leaders think their people will be motivated by the leader’s authority or position or out of fear of reprisal for not performing as expected. Motivating by fear, position, or authority is transitory. The positive effects are short-term, and potential negative consequences, including resentment and loss of respect, can be damaging in the long term.
Many employees don’t have the knowledge they need for high productivity or skilled work.
Here are some of the reasons:
- Leaders don’t have time or don’t take time to sufficiently develop job responsibilities for those they lead.
- Employees are confused about performance expectations.
- Employees are under-trained, under-developed, and unsure about how to do their job, how long it should take, and when it should be completed.
- Leaders are unclear about what mechanisms of training and teaching are available to them.
- Leaders are unsure about employee responsibilities and performance expectations. They may also lack subject matter expertise.
- Leaders are overwhelmed with personal responsibilities and meetings and are not organized to develop, create, and deliver training to those they lead
Diligent leaders set an example of hard work, professionalism, integrity, and adherence to organizational values and systems. A wise Japanese Sensei, Watanabe San, once taught, “You cannot not to teach.” His message was that no matter what you do or say, you are sending a message—you are teaching. When leader behavior is consistent with their expectations for others, they inspire the people around them.
When leaders work hard, those that follow work hard too. When leaders behave with dignity and respect, their team does as well. If leaders are cavalier about company policy, those they lead will behave similarly. The height of leader integrity is that their example—their behavior matches their expectations for others.
Leaders hold themselves and others to relentlessly high standards. They strive to be the best. They always work to achieve something more. Their pursuit of a consistently high standard is inspiring to those they lead.
Effective leaders communicate persistently and empower always. They establish formal training events, and they take advantage of informal teaching opportunities. They teach in person and virtually. Their continuous communication cultivates competence, compliance, skill mastery, independent thinking, and action. By contrast, typical leaders give this kind of instruction very little thought. Great leaders make teaching a high priority. They make it an integral part of their life.
The reality of great leaders being great teachers is what Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, learned from more than a decade of studying exceptional leaders.
“Teaching is not merely an ‘extra’ for good managers; it’s an integral responsibility. If you’re not teaching, you’re not really leading.”(5)
Finkelstein was surprised to discover the extent to which superstar leaders engaged in regular teaching exercises with those that directly reported to them. Moreover, they were persistently intrusive in communicating with their people.
These leaders empowered their people with knowledge, principles, and skills that would help them succeed. They expected their people to be coachable and yield to the things they were taught. Finkelstein’s leaders also empowered people by their example. They were orthodox in their adherence to organizational values and systems and expected the same of those they led.
Three things stand out about teacher-leaders from Finkelstein’s research. First, leaders are intrusive. They communicate persistently and empower their people always. Second, they expect their people to be teachable and coachable, yielding to the leader’s guidance. Third, leaders are orthodox. They adhere to organizational values and systems and expect those they lead to do the same.
Leaders are enabled to teach when they have a regular schedule of formal teaching activities and a prepared agenda. Formal teaching can be directed to the entire team or individual team members. Leaders create informal teaching opportunities by scheduling time to walk around the workspace occupied by their team. They can listen to and join in conversations. They can observe work patterns and look for behaviors worthy of public or private celebration.
When team members are geographically separated, leaders can peruse the virtual water-cooler and work collaboration technologies used to keep the team connected. Technologies such as Slack, jostle, and Happeo that provide social interaction and team collaboration can help leaders identify issues and trends in virtual conversations. These technologies can also be a platform to guide thought, learning, and direction.
Formal teaching opportunities for individuals include 1-to-1 interviews and side-by-side work opportunities. In addition, regular status updates from individuals and feedback from the leader are formal mechanisms for teaching individual team members.
Learn more about how leaders are enabled to lead with method, tools, and technology
- Learn more about using the calendar to enable formal and informal teaching opportunities.
- Learn more about formal activities and events for teaching that should be on every leader’s calendar
- Learn more about technologies that align the priorities of the leader and the employee.
- Learn more about technologies that allow leaders to escape the boundaries of time and space and lead their people 24/7 without having to be present.
- Learn more about training agendas and routines that enable leaders to train and develop their people.
- Learn more about technologies that enable leaders to conduct meaningful and effective 1-to-1 interviews.
- Learn more about how to stimulate meaningful status updates that keep leaders informed, help them avoid embarrassing information gaps, and provide leaders an opportunity to inform, guide, and teach.
- Learn more about content available to leaders to teach, develop, and coach their team.
Set the Agenda - Establish the Strategic direction
When it comes to strategic direction, we find in too many organizations that leaders lack the:
- Skill or time to develop effective strategic plans
- Means (tools and technology) to implement strategy
- Communication skillset, toolset, mindset to guide performers to implement a strategic agenda
Leaders set the agenda by creating a vision and a strategy. One example of a leader who created a compelling vision is U.S. President John F. Kennedy. With one speech, President Kennedy established such a powerful vision for space exploration that it mobilized the priorities and actions of the nation.
On May 25, 1961, Kennedy declared in speech to congress:
“I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment. . . .
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind.” (6)
Watch Kennedy’s speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhgVZLrxiu0
President Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet just two and a half years later. Yet, his visionary speech was so inspiring, death could not derail the nation from its course. And on July 20, 1969, just over 8 years after declaring his 10 year vision, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans ever to land on the moon.
The moon landing itself was a glorious accomplishment but it also had an impact on every aspect of modern American life. CEO Magazine shared 12 items that we would not have without President Kennedy’s vision of going to the moon(7):
- Camera phones
- CAT scans
- LED lights
- Athletic shoes
- Water purifiers
- The Jaws of Life
- Wireless headsets
- Memory foam
- Artificial limbs
- Computer mouse
The truth is, Kennedy’s vision transformed our world beyond water purifiers and athletic shoes. Scientists building computers for NASA soon realized that the existing transistor technology would be inadequate to meet the demands of space travel. Necessity led to invention and integrated circuits—and computer chips were born. There is very little in our modern life that is untouched by that single scientific breakthrough stimulated by a president’s vision of going to the moon.
Ambitious leaders give their people something to which they can look forward, to which they can work. Vision fuels the human need for accomplishment. It is vision that directs work and motivates action.
A pathway to reaching the vision helps to make it achievable and realistic. If the objective is so distant and far-reaching that people cannot see—if vision is obfuscated—it will be difficult to rally people to the cause. Method makes the vision achievable and realistic. Having a system is an integral part of inspiring and motivating people.
Stories, examples, and personal experiences help to create a vivid picture of the possibilities. When leaders share stories of individual effort and progress toward the goal, it makes the objective more vivid and more possible
Leaders set the agenda by laying out an inspiring vision and a strategy—a plan for its accomplishment.
Assign Responsibilities - implement the strategy
“Are your responsibilities clearly defined?”
“How confident are you that you’re working on the most important things?”
How do you think your team would respond honestly to those questions if asked by a non-threatening third-party?
The research predicts that you’d be shocked by their answers.
The problems are:
- Employees are often hired to a job title with no assigned roles, responsibilities, directions, or resources.
- Employees are often left to guess at their priorities, actions, and time allocation.
- Without clear responsibilities, employee actions may not be connected to the current vision, mission, and agenda.
Problem/Solution—title, no assigned roles, responsibilities, directions, or resources. Guess, actions from the previous job—SME experiences, may not be connected to the current vision, mission, agenda at all.
Leaders enable their people to be successful when they define responsibilities clearly and precisely. When performers understand exactly what is expected of them, they act with confidence, organize their time and activities to meet expectations, and develop the skills and habits necessary to succeed.
Responsibilities are pathways to progress. They guide regular activity and mark progress toward the desired end. When performers have pathways toward goal accomplishment, they enjoy a greater measure of emotional resilience.(8)
Leaders enable team members to complete assigned responsibilities by providing brief instructions and standards that accompany each responsibility. Griffin Hill’s Priority Alignment Tool (PAT) empowers leaders to easily assign roles and responsibilities and give directions as well as resources for accomplishing expectations.
Roles and Responsibilities in Priority Alignment Tool (PAT)
· Personal development
· Work behaviors that stack the odds in favor of success
· Generate revenue
· Develop Transformational Habits (personal development)
· Use Griffin Hill ScoreCard (work behaviors to stack odds of success)
· Score (x) Points each month (work behaviors to stack odds of success)
· Maintain (x) Active Cases (work behaviors to stack odds of success)
· Close/Needs Audit Ratio of (x) (generate revenue)
· Closes of (x) and revenue of (x) (generate revenue)
· Participate in individual and team meetings (work behaviors to stack odds of success)
Having done the hard work of creating and assigning clear responsibilities, leaders expect their people to review their responsibilities every day. Leaders teach every time a team member reviews their responsibilities. Without having to be present, the responsibilities in the Priority Alignment Tool remind employees what is expected of them. Leaders teach by the instructions they provide with each responsibility.
Leaders teach their employees how to do their job every time the employee reviews the directions for a responsibility in their Griffin Hill Priority Alignment Tool (PAT). Reminding team members of their responsibilities and teaching them what to do is fundamentally sound leadership. Using performance technology, leaders can inspire, motivate, and teach without being present or consuming additional valuable time.
Hold People Accountable
Leaders hold people accountable. They observe and oversee performance. When performers are held accountable, they remain more focused, more engaged, and more intent on accomplishing their responsibilities. Leaders using the Priority Alignment Tool (PAT) expect regular status updates from employees about one or more of their responsibilities. Each day, when employees review responsibilities, they choose responsibilities about which they wish to communicate with their immediate leader.
Using status updates in PAT, team members can share activity, effort, progress, or accomplishment about their responsibilities. Employees can ask for guidance, resources, or support to be able to meet expectations.
Expecting their people to report daily or a few times each week is an effective way to hold their people accountable without being present in the same time and space. Status updates are an effective way for employees to be accountable. In 90 seconds to 3 minutes, a team member can review their responsibilities and give a meaningful report.
Effective leaders conduct regular one-to-one interviews with their people. Formal one-to-one meetings are an opportunity for leaders to take the emotional temperature of those they lead. It is a chance for the leader and team member to align perceptions and opinions. One-to-one meetings are an additional teaching opportunity for leaders.
The Priority Alignment Tool facilitates frank conversations that empower leaders to guide their people to higher performance levels effectively. Holding one-to-one interviews with team members is a crucial way to hold team members accountable.
Effective one-to-one meetings rely on the kind of qualitative data the Priority Alignment Tool provides. The Priority Alignment Tool promotes meaningful discussion about important work performance. Other performance technology provides rich quantitative performance data.
In addition to thoughtful, ethical behavior, leaders are responsible for conflict resolution. The policy, practice, and pattern of resolving conflict influences organizational culture. Senior executives lead and shape culture in the way they respond to conflict.
Conflict can exist among leaders competing for scarce resources. Conflicts over organizational priorities, directions, and initiatives can splinter attention and energy. These divisions can stall organizational progress or set the company on an undesirable course.
Other forms of conflict include the regular differences of opinion or personality clashes typical in any community. Embracing a value of tolerance and respect can help mitigate these issues. A policy for deciding when normal irritations rise to a level deserving leader attention, along with a system of attending to the issues and adjudicating them, can guide leaders to be more effective in conflict resolution.
The same sales skills used to conduct the Needs Audit, Solution Presentation, and Overcoming Objections will go a long way to effective conflict resolution. The listening skills enabled by the Overcoming Objections and Needs Audit routines will help you quickly develop an understanding of key issues and relevant aspects of the conflicts you face.
The questions themselves will assuage concerns and cultivate mutual understanding. Presenting solutions in terms of the benefits most deserved by each party motivates progress and adoption of plans to move forward. Developing and applying sales skills will lead to an exceptional ability to resolve conflicts that leaders face.
Make Sound (data-driven) Decisions
Effective leaders rely on qualitative and quantitative measures to make good decisions. Sources of qualitative data include the Priority Alignment Tool, sales call recordings and analysis, and coaching interactions. Quantitative measures are available from Griffin Hill’s ScoreCard metrics and sales engagement platforms like Outreach, SalesLoft, and iLasso. Using the methods, tools, and technologies in the Griffin Hill toolbox will improve leadership impact. Taking advantage of both qualitative and quantitative sources of information leads to better data-driven decision-making.
Leaders who know how to create, train, and lead high-performance teams are extremely rare. If leaders can’t see it, they can’t measure it. Without a clear process, leaders are unable to see the progression toward organizational objectives. Not only is it impossible to measure what is impossible to see, but if leaders can’t measure it, they can’t improve it.
Measuring the performance of salespeople must account for productivity and proficiency:
Pd × Pf = Po
Productivity measures like the Points report and Active Case report, as well as proficiency measures like Needs Audit/Case Open Ratio and Close/Needs Audit Ratio, are available from Griffin Hill’s ScoreCard. They are essential productivity and proficiency metrics that help leaders diagnose performance results and prescribe solutions for continuous improvement.
ScoreCard for Smart Decisions
As salespeople use ScoreCard to record and analyze performance over time, clear patterns about productivity and proficiency emerge. These patterns allow sales performers and leaders to predict future results. Predictive analytics is possible because there are established patterns of performance to analyze. Once points, cases, and ratios are well understood, leaders can predict the number and timing of closed deals a salesperson is likely to produce. They are also able to predict deal size. As a result, ScoreCard can help leaders predict the stream of revenue produced by each salesperson.
Predictive analytics become very useful in macro decision-making about the allocation of resources and investment choices. They are also useful to help inspire, motivate, and teach salespeople. Leaders in their role as the coach can play “what if” scenarios with salespeople and then create skill development plans that will help elevate performance.
For example, let’s say Salesperson A has a Needs Audit/Case Open Ratio of 8%. Let’s say the team average is 12% and that the best performer on the team has a 16% Needs Audit/Case Open ratio. Let’s also say that Salesperson A has the highest Close/Needs Audit Ratio on the team and performs near the top of revenue generation with $150,000 per month in closed revenue. The team average is $145,000 per month, and the top performer in revenue generates $175,000 per month.
If Salesperson A maintains their current close rate and improves their Needs Audit/Close Ratio by just two percentage points, they would close $187,500 per month. The higher level of performance would take them to the top of the revenue leaderboard and increase personal commissions by 25%! If Salesperson A could match the team average of a 12% Needs Audit/Case Open Ratio, monthly sales revenue would increase to $225,000, and personal commissions would grow by 50%!
Once the leader has stimulated Salesperson A with a new vision for performance, using the sales process, they are able to complete the diagnosis. Salesperson A does not have to work 50% harder in order to reach the new revenue targets. Salesperson A simply has to improve their Needs Audit/Case Open Ratio to be consistent with the team average. The diagnosis is complete. Both sales leader and Salesperson A now know that two specific levers can elevate performance results by 50% or more.
The first of these levers is to improve their skill with the five basic plays of the Case Open Routine—Rapport, Position, Benefit, Proof, and Schedule the Next Event. The second lever is the quality of the target audience to whom the Case Open is delivered. Now Salesperson A has both the diagnosis and the prescription. When Salesperson A realizes they don’t have to work 50% harder to improve results and commissions by 50%, the goal becomes more real and achievable.
ScoreCard’s predictive analytics give salespeople and sales leaders the tools they need to make better decisions. Better decision-making improves performance results. With predictive analytics, sales leaders become more effective. They change the lives of the people they lead by helping them learn and follow true patterns of human performance and achievement.