In my column last week I talked about what I think it takes to be a great sales manager, and a couple of weeks ago I wrote about what it takes to be a great independent rep. Today, let’s talk about leadership.
What kind of leader are you?
Are you truly leading the way? Are you, your company’s visionary? I once had a boss who wanted to sit in his office all day, never participate in any meetings and then ask us, his managers to write long tediously detailed reports and give them to him so he would know what was going on. In short he wanted to know everything we were doing without having to participate in anything.
On Mondays for example, I would have to put together an updated rolling forecast for the next three months and give it to him at the end of the day. So then I would have to go into his office at 4:30 Monday afternoon and review the forecast with him. Now, I am not saying that there should be no reporting but what I am saying is that I could just as easily done a status report and turned it in to him every Monday morning for him to read at his leisure.
Oh, and there is another thing he could have done. He could have come to our Monday morning status meetings and heard everything from all of his managers first hand. That way in the space of an hour he would have been completely updated. He could have given us his appropriate feedback and we could have all spent a much more productive Monday.
My point is that he was wasting our time, his time and the company’s time. As a leader, of course you have to know what is going on. You have to make sure that all things are going in the right direction and yes, you do have to set that direction. But you should not be wasting your managers’ time on long individual meetings so that they can dedicate their lives to keeping you updated at all times. That should happen automatically through a more sophisticated and productive reporting system.
As a leader you should be always working on making your managers and the people who work for them as productive and effective as possible.
This is what I believe a leader should be doing:
He should be a visionary: He should be setting the company’s vision, mission and direction. He should be the person who is always looking towards the future to see what is on the next horizon and then leading his people in that direction all the time developing that strategic direction of that company.
She should be the chief strategist: She has to be the one who sets the direction. The person who assimilates all of the company’s information, combines it will all of the market information including customer and competitor information and forms the company’s strategic direction. And she should make sure that everyone in the company understands the company’s direction.
He should develop the company’s values: The rest of the company should be able to look at towards leader as an example of how to behave, how to treat customers, how to treat people and how to treat even the competitors. The leader’s value must be impeccable
She should set the pace for the company: She is the company driver. She makes sure that the company is always moving forward and in the right direction.
He should be the chief communicator: He should always be communicating the company’s message. He is the one person who is the keeper of the company’s culture making sure that everyone in the company understands everything about the company including not only what it stands for but also where it is going. If the message is clear to the people they will be able to enact it, to live it.
He should be the face of the company: When it comes to the public. The leader represents the company. He should do so with personality, dignity and integrity he should not only be his company’s leader but he should be an industry leader as well. When it comes to the industry he has to make sure that his company has a strong and valid place at the table.
She should be the company’s number one customer advocate: The leader has the biggest voice in the company, all of the other team members take their cue on how to behave from their company leader. They also take how to treat their customers from their leader. She should never ever bad mouth a customers because once she does she is giving tacit approval to all of her associates to do the same. She must keep the highest standards when it comes to customer service insisting that customers be treated like gold. She has to set the standard, a gold standard at that for customer treatment and service. She has to show her people how to always do the right thing; how to always take the high road.
Finally the company leader has to always assume the role of leadership. He must be on duty at all time. On his best behavior at all times. There is no room for sloppiness, no room for less than exemplary behavior, no room for ever giving the job anything but his or her very best at all times. The leader has to lead by example because her entire team from the top VP’s to the people on the floor is watching her and taking their cue from her. The way her team behaves and performs will always be indicative of the kind of leader she is.
Its only common sense