Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Are you a manager or a leader? As a manager, you have two kinds of time. You have “management time” and “leadership time”. Management time is the time you spend getting your sales people to do their work. Leadership time is the time you spend training and leading your sales team to new levels of success. When you are spending your time managing, that is time you can’t use to teach and lead your sales team.

Many managers use a grading system when analyzing their sales team. These grading systems are often subjective. Because revenue is such a priority, senior sellers that produce a lot of revenue seem to get better grades than newer sellers with a smaller list. But is that really the best way to grade your sales people?

When a manager reviews how they spend their time, they often find that the senior seller with the big list requires a lot of management time. Managers will describe a senior seller that requires a lot of management time as being “high maintenance”. These sales people are using up the manager’s time for management when the manager could be spending their time on training and leadership.

For a manager to lead a truly high performance sales team they must first recruit and hire sales people who require as little management time as possible. Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines built his successful airline by “hiring for attitude and training for skill”. When you have a team with a good attitude, you spend more of your time on training and leadership and less on management.

Jim Collins is the author of a couple of landmark management books, Built to Last and Good to Great. Collins and his team of researchers analyzed data on over a thousand companies to identify why some companies enjoy greater levels of success than other successful companies. Their research found that people with the right attitude were a positive component of the company’s success. Collins describes the influence of attitude as “having the right people on the bus”. The managers of the very successful companies not only had a commitment to get the right people on their bus, they were equally committed to get the wrong people off of their bus.

Collins says that if you find there is a need to “manage” someone on your bus, they’re probably not the right person for your team. They are using up your valuable time you could be using to teach and lead.

Next time you review your sales team, consider these suggestions for what an “A” player might look like:

  • An “A” player is someone that requires very little management time. They hit their sales goals on a consistent basis. They get their paperwork turned in on time and it is accurate and meaningful.
  • The “A” player is someone that is growth oriented. They do the things that will result in growth. They prospect for new customers on a regular basis. They are enthusiastic participants in all sales initiatives. They don’t argue over rate.
  • You get very few complaints about an “A” player from their customers and coworkers. They have very low ARs and very few if any sales adjustments. They are professional in their dress and with their time management.
  • An “A” player is someone with a professional attitude towards their training, continued education and personal development.

As the sales person’s requirement for more management time increases, their grade goes down. If you have to manage the sales person to prospect more regularly, they’re not an “A” player. If you have to manage the sales person to participate in your sales initiatives, they’re not an “A” player. If you find yourself arguing with the sales person over rates, they’re not an “A” player.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If you have to repeatedly “teach” your sales people when sales reports are due or why you need to charge what you charge, that is a signal that person should not be on your bus. Jim Collins also suggests that it’s a clear signal someone shouldn’t be on your bus if knowing what you know now, you would not have hired that person in the first place.

To become a more successful leader, you need to develop the discipline to recognize that when you find yourself managing that something is wrong. You’re taking valuable time away from teaching and leading your sales team.

Now, after considering the drain managing people puts on your teaching and leadership time, would you grade your sales people any differently? Is it time to rearrange the people on your bus?

Talk to you soon.

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