Every person in every industry can improve a little bit every day by focusing on self-improvement and developing respected leadership traits. Whether you’re a seller, a sales leader, or someone who isn’t even involved in sales, you’ll likely find yourself responsible for guiding people and helping them succeed.
Luis Weger works with a startup focused on changing the medical construction industry and serves as an offer in the Army Reserves. He recently launched a company called “Self: Reinvented” designed to help others discover their purpose and passion and enhance their resiliency.
He believes that anyone can develop their leadership skills, even those who seem to be natural-born leaders.
He developed a phrase to help people remember the important aspects of leadership. Leaders must remember 2 ACT. Each letter in the acronym represents two concepts.
A = Aware and Accountable
C = Competent and Confident
T = Trusting and Trustworthy.
From his experience leading people, training people, and working with clients, leaders must have these six attributes in order to lead well. It’s especially true in the sales profession.
Aware and Accountable
Every military leader learns situational awareness because it’s vital in foreign countries. You cannot operate in enemy territory without knowing what’s going on around you.
In business, this refers to knowing what’s going on around you. It also refers to emotional awareness.
- Are you in tune with the people around you?
- Do you know what’s happening within the company you represent?
- Do you understand what your client needs?
- Are you tracking changes in the industry you’re in?
Industries change constantly, from rules and regulations to policies and procedures. You must stay aware of the changes that are taking place.
Leaders who live under a rock won’t be leaders very long. You cannot ignore the realities in which you operate because if no one’s following you, you aren’t truly a leader.
Luis was recently invited to change military units, and he discovered just prior to the transition that there was only one other officer in the unit. That meant that he and the commander were responsible for all 50 soldiers. No one told him that ahead of time, but because he was aware, he picked up on the situation and made an informed decision.
Accountability is also vitally important in the sales industry.
Being a sales leader means taking accountability for the performance of your team. Don’t pass the blame. Share the credit wherever you can and take ownership of mistakes.
Leaders guide and protect their team members. They sit down behind-the-scenes with their team members and acknowledge the things that went wrong. Then they help them correct those problems.
Competence and Confidence
Luis points to the book The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey as one of his favorites. When you’re in the sales profession, your clients look to you as an expert. You represent the perfect solution to your client’s problem.
If you have ever sat across the table from a person who doesn’t truly understand the industry he is selling in, you recognize the importance of competence. No one expects you to be an expert in everything. In fact, companies recruit fresh blood all the time. It’s one thing to bring a new perspective in the form of someone who is learning and quite another thing to recruit someone who is incompetent.
In the military, lieutenants who come right out of college outrank noncommissioned officers who have been in the military for 20 years. They don’t really know much about the military because they are fresh out of school. How do you lead people who have 20 years more experience than you do?
You don’t have the same knowledge and skills they do, so how do you reflect competence? You reflect a desire to become competent. Like CEOs, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room; you simply surround yourself with smart people.
Build a network. Demonstrate humility. Show people around you that you aren’t the greatest but that you’re seeking help to get better.
Then demonstrate that you’re comfortable leading. Luis knows leaders who are in charge by title but they don’t want to be there. Confidence doesn’t mean feeling 100 percent all the time. It simply demands that you have the right frame of mind.
Luis developed a technique he calls “so what?”
- “So what if I mess up on my speech?”
- “So what if I say something unplanned on The Sales Evangelist?”
- “So what if I don’t close this sale today?”
- “So what if someone sees me make a mistake today?”
The point isn’t to minimize consequences. We’re reminding ourselves that it’s ok to be human and to be imperfect. When you get beyond the discomfort that comes from the fear of failure, that’s true confidence. It’s about managing fear and putting fear in its proper perspective. People will be more attracted to you because they’ll see you as a real person.
Trusting and Trustworthy
Luis recalls hearing a CEO talk about the need to be trusting and trustworthy. You must trust in the skills and training of those who lead as well as those you are leading. If you try to micromanage everyone around you, you’ll burn out.
Ask yourself whether those people have developed the skills, knowledge, and training to allow you to trust them. You don’t have to trust them right out of the gate because you don’t know what they’re bringing to the table. So what do you have to do to get to the point where you can trust them? Invest in them. Make sure they are trained, led, and managed in a healthy way. If you find that you can’t trust them, ask yourself why. What is it about that person that makes it difficult to trust him?
Fix the issue if you can. If you can’t, you may have to consider how to move forward.
Perhaps more importantly, be trustworthy. Be a man or woman of your word. Even the smallest failures to do what you said you’d do cause your trustworthiness to be depleted.
Lack of trust undermines any other attribute you bring to the table.
If no one is following you as a leader, consider whether you’re truly leading. You may hold the title of leader, but are people willing to follow you into battle.
As a sales professional, you’re a mentor and trainer and you have capabilities and competencies, but are people willing to follow your advice? Will they do what you ask?
Be humble and be human. Move beyond the perfect image. Everyone brings something to the table, and you can learn from everyone around you.
“Respected Leadership Traits” episode resources
You can connect with Luis at selfreinvented.com. He enjoys helping people succeed and sharing his own leadership experiences.
You can also connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or try our first module of TSE Certified Sales Training Program or free. This episode has been made possible with the help of TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a training course designed to help sellers in improving their performance.
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