The lessons in leadership never end, as we are always trying to be a better leader. There are no guarantees in leadership. But there is a system to becoming stronger with each decision, mistake, and goal that you make. Here are some of my insights to being a better leader. Am I the leader I need to be right now? Not a chance! There is always room for growth, as long as we read about it.
Give Yourself the Chance to be a Leader
The best decision I ever made was in 2013, when I was offered a leadership role with the Yellow Pages Group, building and managing their outbound sales team. I say it was the best because I have seen so much since the day I started, and as we all know, we go through tough decisions. That is why leadership is hard to come across. You cannot always find someone that is able to juggle the management demands, while hitting numbers. The first thing to do as a potential leader is to make sure you are recognized by executives within your company. Do what it takes to make yourself indispensable to your company.
Hire the Right People
It is all about the team. When I reflect on some tough decisions, I look no further than hiring. This is the cornerstone to a team; we need to trust the front line of the business. We sometimes hold onto hired agents for too long, and it ends up hurting our morale. There was a ‘Chris,’ who was hired based on motivation, but I should have quizzed him more on his ability to focus. The messages never got through, and it became so tedious, that I eventually had to let him go. The lesson I learned was to always ensure a hire is right, by looking beyond their motivation in a few sittings. Ask if they have achieved a long term goal and get a clear understanding of their ability to succeed with it. The clear lesson here – do not hire someone based on two interviews, and ensure the candidate has had success with setting goals and achieving them. If we can build upon previous successes, our guidance for the company will have a better foundation that comes from matured teammates.
As for goals, I have had tons of them! I had them as a rep, consultant, agent, sales person, or whatever revenue generating name you wanted to give me. I remember when I worked for AdvancePro Inventory Management Software, where I missed my first month’s goal, and then assured my boss it wouldn’t happen again. I did whatever it took to be the best I could be on the phone from that point on. I was making good money for a 27 year old. That monthly goal always drove me to a higher place. It made me happy to achieve, just like hockey did, when we won. It has never been about me, as I enjoyed being the best on a team that succeeds. Did I miss my monthly goal again? Yes, 2 more times throughout a 2 year stint there, but I always focused on the target, and did everything I could to achieve it. As a manager, I saw a different twist on those goals, where you need to plan beyond your own mind. It is tough to determine what other people will do, but you can absorb their credentials, skills, desires, and social abilities first; helping to ensure we are making the right decision. The next lesson I learned was to make sure that we instill and compliment self-motivation. We want people that have one conversation and then run with an idea. They have to be self-seeking achievers that love their team.
Goals are my passion, and that will never leave my heart. Whether it be my own, or a faraway goal that requires an action plan to get to; I am eager to achieve it. Achievement needs a measure, and will always be held to a number. Where that measuring stick rests is a matter for planning. As an agent you cannot plan for the company objectives. They are set and you must do what you can to achieve them. As a manager, you cannot determine the company objective. They are given to you as well, but you can at least plan your hiring, and firing to help shape a team to perfection; helping you achieve those goals. It is critical for us to engage with our goals, understanding how they can be achieved, and motivating the team to get there. That is what we are as managers; we hold 50% of the desire to achieve for anyone on our team. If you don’t then you clearly don’t have team players. Team players buy-in to structure and seek guidance from their leadership. With that guidance comes influence, and that influence must always be positive. Let’s cheer them on! Let’s thank ur teammates for their continued work. When you do, you will see the difference it makes, and your reward as a manager will be lived with every day. The lesson of praise is critical. Take the time to speak to your team. Send that email of thankfulness. Show that you care.
Thank you for reading. This is my journey to being an improved leader, as each day passes. What leadership qualities do you think are important?