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Posted: January 16, 2012

Leader or high-priced doer?

Three ways to keep from drowning with your new hat on

Matt Rowe

You have been the "top producer" of your sales department and grown in your organization. You are recognized by the C suite. The day comes when you are called into the CEO's office and asked to take the role as the leader of the sales department.

This is a time for celebration, but hold on. When you were in the sales trenches, your time was centered on business development and sales processes. What skills were you learning to lead and manage effectively? In many cases, teaching and mentorship came from those around you.

You are in charge now. The tasks and objectives are new. Your days are different and you are now "the boss." As the leader, you are expected to have all the answers.

New sales leaders can feel like they are drowning and alone. You start working harder and dig your heels in. When problems arise you step in and become the hero of the day. The line outside your office is growing longer. You arrive earlier and stay late to get "management duties" completed.

STOP!

You were promoted to be the leader, not a high-priced doer! If you continue, burnout is inevitable. How do you start down the path of becoming the leader?

Here are three ways to stop being a high-priced doer.

1. Instill discipline into your sales organization.

Where is your sales team lacking discipline? Discipline is defined as a behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control. In most cases, it is not a matter of working longer hours. Leadership is how you show up to your new role. If the team's role revolves around cold calling, then what are you doing to instill the values and drive necessary to perform a difficult task on a regular basis? If success for you came by 25 new outreaches per week, then how are you benchmarking your team to achieve this goal? What key performance indicators are you establishing so your team knows what it means to be successful?

It is rare to find an individual who shows up for their job with the intention of being bad at it. Does your team know what it looks like to be good at their job? When your team has discipline, they know what success at XYZ company is and how to achieve it.

2. Teach your team how to fail.

What is your attitude and culture toward failure? If you do not teach your team how to address failure, they live in fear that the next wrong step can be their last. The line forms outside your office when the team is trying to cover for future failure. The thoughts move to protecting their job, not thinking outside the box to make you look good. Failure can be the greatest learning opportunity in your life. When you learn from failure it becomes a launching point for ideas that are bigger and better.

Be bold and lead your team by example. Teach that failure and risks are accepted and encouraged. This is new ground for your team. You are going to stretch them which is what it means to be a leader.

3. Transformation by teaching

What is your biggest priority as a sales leader? Did you enter your office this morning thinking about the next problem across your desk or were you thinking about teaching what it takes to make good decisions and solve problems? If you are not teaching your team new skills, then you are doomed to be a high-priced doer. Become a teacher of greatness and excellence who pushes their team to be better.

"Leaders teach. Teaching and leading are distinguishable occupations, but every great leader teaches--and every great teacher is leading." ~ John W. Gardner

You are now the sales leader. You have a team of willing and gifted individuals hungry to be great. It is time to do something with it. Stop trying to be the hero, and let your team shine into greatness. Enjoy the journey. Celebrate often.

They are waiting for a leader. Are you ready?

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Matt is a Chief Sales Officer at SalesLeadership Inc. and is helping companies create award winning sales leaders. Matt has also authored the book Losers Never Fail, which motivates readers to turn failure into their greatest adventure. Matt utilizes his past experiences to deliver motivational keynote speeches that are custom designed to meet the client’s needs and message. Reach Matt at Matt@salesleadershipdevelopment.com.

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