Take me to your leader. If you have one. Are you a leader? Do you aspire to be one? Are you a true leader or a leader in name (or title) only?
Leadership is the true challenge for the next decade. Entrepreneurial ventures are starting in record numbers, competition is stiffer than ever, customers are demanding more, and profit margins are thinning. All of these trends create leadership opportunities.
• Do your people follow you or avoid you?
• Do your people respond to your assignments?
• Do your people complete their tasks? On time?
• Are the meetings you lead structured, supportive, and encouraging?
Where do leaders come from? Everywhere. Some have natural aptitude and environmental advantages, but all leaders must learn the fundamental skills if they want to gain or maintain their position. If you’re having a hard time following, you might try leading.
Here are a few leadership challenges to ponder:
• Are you tired of being a follower?
• If you want to lead, where do you start?
• Are leaders born or made?
• What is the best way to become an effective leader?
• What are the leadership skills you need to develop?
• Do your people want to listen to you, or do they HAVE to listen to you?
Here’s what it takes
If you are one, or want to be one, check out these 8.5 qualities of “what it takes” to be an effective leader:
1. Maintain a positive attitude. Be solution-oriented, action-oriented, people-oriented. A leader’s enthusiasm is contagious. If you get too close, you can catch a serious case of success.
2. See change as an opportunity. Change is certain. Followers tend to resist change. It is the mark of a leader to welcome change and take advantage of the opportunity it presents.
3. Deploy courage. Douglas MacArthur said, “Courage is just fear that holds out a little longer.” Good advice. George Patton said, “I don’t take counsel from my fears.” Good advice. Leaders choose courage.
4. Take a risk. The biggest risk is to never take one. One of the hallmarks of success is the willingness to risk. Leaders are determined to win or try again.
5. Listen. Listen with the intent to understand. Leaders listen to learn. Your prospects know their needs, and they know what’s happening on the front lines of their business. Just listen.
6. Communicate. Leaders set the example for open communication. They use their heads, say what they feel, and speak from their heart, not from their policy.
7. Delegate and empower. Leaders share responsibility. They don’t dictate. They set examples for others to follow. Leaders encourage growth in others by challenging them to take new responsibility, encouraging them to succeed, and supporting them if they fail. Leaders understand that mistakes are lessons on the way to success.
8. Understand others, yourself, and your situation. Leaders understand the importance of an open, inquisitive mind. A constant quest for knowledge brings greater understanding.
8.5 Commitment. Commitment is the catalyst that makes all the other leadership qualities a reality. Daily rededication to commitment is the difference between leaders and would-be leaders.
Adding it up
Rate yourself between one and 10 in those 8.5 areas. If your score is under 80 (highest possible 90), you need help.
Whether you lead your company, lead your sales team or lead your peers-how you employ and implement your leadership skills will determine your leadership success.
If you’re a business owner… You wear many hats. So many owners fail to realize their first job and biggest responsibility is in sales. How you lead the sales team determines how the rest of the business fares.
If you’re a sales manager… Lead, don’t manage. Your hands-on support and encouragement is often the difference between exceeding your sales goal and finding a new job.
If you’re an aspiring leader… Start small. Lead a group or committee. Do whatever is necessary to make it a winner. Do it again, until it begins to feel natural. Respect the power of leadership-and the power of the people you seek to lead.
There is one rule that is universally applicable. This rule, when followed, makes great leaders. Unfortunately, this rule is employed the least: Lead by EXAMPLE.
Free GitBit: Wanna know what motivates? Ten answers. Go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the words WHAT MOTIVATES in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail