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Archive for April, 2017

Leadership (again)…

Let’s go again…  Whether at work; within our family; on a sports team; in the classroom; by our government; in every relationship; can you think of any area of our lives that is not impacted (positively or negatively) by leadership?

We’ve all worked for “that” boss, true?  You know, the good one; or the bad one; the one that inspired us; the terror; the young one, the old one…  I bet you can remember that boss that impacted your life, yes?

What makes a good boss tick?  John Maxwell offers:

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.

His viewpoint was included in a post by one of my favorite thought leaders, Dr. Travis Bradberry in “Why Nice Bosses Finish First”. (see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-nice-bosses-finish-first-dr-travis-bradberry )

Is that the key?  To be effective as a boss do we have to be nice?  When we work for a nice boss, does she command our respect; inspire us to perform; prevent us from quitting?  Dr. Brad summarized a survey from Randstad Consulting that found,

… most employees would trade in their bosses for better ones rather than receive a $5,000 pay raise.

Hmmm… assigning a trade value for a good boss; $5,000 per year.  I think one challenge in comparing the trade to a raise is what our Unknown Sage taught us:

The Salary Axiom:

The pay raise is just large enough to increase your taxes and just small enough to have no effect on your take-home pay.

Makes me think that being the boss; especially an effective boss; is situational.

I was the nice boss once – my people trampled on me!  I had no credibility, they gave me no respect, my department was a mess, but everyone would say, “That Gary, what a nice guy.”

I started thinking about turning to the dark side.  We’ve all read about those tyrannical leaders.  Steve Jobs was legendary in his manner of berating employees.  Is your boss a screamer?    We never know for sure if they’re truly a horse’s ass, or if this is their way of motivating employees.

Stanley Gault CEO of Rubbermaid:

He responds to the accusation of being a tyrant with the statement, “Yes, but I’m a sincere tyrant.”

I wonder who Stanley followed to develop his leadership style.  What do I know?  Back in the day when I took my second go-round as the boss, I was cautious.  Thankfully, my sales people were patient.  They helped me trip across a foundational leadership principle I believe in to this day.

Back then when our new fiscal year rolled around I was tasked with raising quotas; shrinking territories; and tweaking comp plans; 3 things that anger sales reps almost universally.  In my case, each of my reps came into my office individually and complained about how unfair the changes were.

Walking that fine line between being too nice of a boss (aka pushover) vs. a tyrant; I patiently listened to each person’s complaints but held firm on the changes.  And that’s when it dawned on me!

The Principle of Equal Unfairness

When everyone on my team believes I am being unfair, then that means I am being equally unfair; and being equally unfair is fair.

I’m not sure that made me the “nice boss”, but I can tell you my sales teams always got over the annual ritual and excelled.  Hmmm… equal unfairness… maybe I’m on to something?

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Eighteen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become increasingly more common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for all too many youths in their teens and twenty’s.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us. 

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton – Today, we are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today, and everyday!

GAP

Losing you…

I’ve been working with a friend of mine over the past year or so – mentoring him as best I can.  When he was promoted from an individual contributor to a front line, sales manager he felt he could use a little help.  We connected through the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (see https://aa-isp.org/ ) where I’m a volunteer mentor.

Over his past two fiscal years we have convened regularly to chat about the challenges of being a front line, sales manager – IMHO – one of the toughest jobs in the profession.  I remember back to my very first days in that role.  I was assigned to lead a team of 4 of our company’s highest and most successful quota achievers; 3 women and 1 man.  Arriving home one evening my wife inquired about my day, “What did you learn today?”

What I learned, I had never given much previous thought to – women, even top selling women – cry.  There I was in my new sales manager role; coming to it after being the top sales rep in the office; thinking I already knew everything; and BOOM!  Tears.  Worse, I didn’t have a box of tissue in my office.  No one gave me a heads up on that necessity.

So when I started mentoring my friend as he settled in to his new sales management role, he permitted me to offer guidance on many of those little things, easily overlooked, that make a big difference in the eye of our followers.

Throughout our conversations I have tried to shed light on the underlying principles successful sales management is grounded on.  I’m a big believer in principles.  One of my mentors authored Principled Based Leadership © which I refer to managers and leaders at any level in their organization.

Principles plus the little things plus a box of tissue make a big difference for front line sales managers.  The most important little thing?  We’re being watched:

One more word about your time:  If you’re in a leadership position, how you spend your time has enormous symbolic value.  It will communicate what’s important or what isn’t far more powerfully than all the speeches you can give.  Strategic change doesn’t just start at the top.  It starts with your calendar. 

Andy Grove

The mentoring meetings with my young protégé have been a tremendously fulfilling experience for me.  Just recently, we came upon one of my favorite leadership principles he is now personally being impacted by.  It sounds like this from his up-line, “Matt, we hate to lose you.”

No, he’s not leaving the company; just the opposite.  He’s seeking (aka competing for) his next promotion.  His main competitor?  His boss doesn’t want to “lose him.”

It’s easy for leaders to proclaim the importance of career development and advancement at their company, true?  But when it comes time to move one of your key people off your team and advance them to next assignment – well – we don’t want to “lose them”.

Actually, when you have earned a promotion your manager is not “losing you”.  And everyone in the organization is watching:

Gary, your people are not permanent.  Enjoy them while they are on your team; develop them; promote them; then bring in the next ones.

Tom McSweeney

Does your company operate on the principle of, “enjoy them; develop them; and promote them”?  Or do your top people have to literally quit and take a job with another company in order to get the role and/or promotion they’ve earned?

GAP

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Learning…

2017 has started off with a bang!  My department is “doubling down” on the enablement programs, training classes, and learning content we provide to our re-sellers.

For instance, instead of leading an in-person sales enablement class every other month (as I did in prior years); in 2017 the class cadence is monthly.  Couple that with conducting on-site enablement meetings for our larger partners, along with re-casting (aka “re-writing”; “improving”; “finishing”; “fixing”) existing enablement content for my external audience and there you have it – bang!  OK, OK – perhaps a bit unfair on felling I must fix our existing content.  Still learning…

Thankfully, I have the perfect job:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

Confucius

My Boss also seems happy that I am happy staying so busy:

Among the chief worries of today’s business executives is the large number of unemployed still on the payrolls. 

Unknown Sage

There are many reasons why I love doing what I do in the sales enablement field.  First and foremost, the term “enablement” is conveniently vague.  Combine such vagueness with a manager who is very empowering means I get to do what I think I should do; the way I think I should do it; leveraging the knowledge, skills and experiences I have learned over the past 40 years; and enabling others the way I was enabled by those who took me under their wing – and still do!

Another reason why I love what I do is I get a front row seat in the fascinating arena of adult learning;

To teach is to learn. 

Japanese Proverb

I get a kick out of working with seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales, marketing and business professionals.  I get to observe those that invest effort and energy to learn; as well as those that invest effort and energy to remind me what they have already learned (aka “Gary, I know; I KNOW!”).  It makes me reflect on, “…the chief worries among business executives…”

I think I get it (e.g. I’m learning).  My successful audience doesn’t want me to try to teach them things they have already learned.  Fair enough – sounds like my kids when they were growing up and complaining about my repetition.  “Yes Dad, I know. Dad – I KNOW!” So I’m (still) learning what my clients “KNOW!”  I do my best to add new learning value in the time they invest with me.

And then I reflect – wait a minute – I’m seasoned; I’m senior…experienced…successful… We’re in agreement.  “Don’t repeat what I’ve already learned in the past – help me learn what I need to know for the future.”  And that’s the key to adult learning IMHO for the sales profession of today.  Sales professionals realize:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you better start running. 

African Proverb

Past success does not guarantee future nourishment.  Those darn, up-and-comers (aka Millennials) I have written about frequently are hungry.  They know they don’t necessarily have to out run the fastest lion to capture the slowest gazelle; they just have to out run we seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales people.

Rise and shine everyone – time to start running – and learning!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com