Our guest blogger this week is a partner of ELEAD1ONE, Bill Wittenmyer. Click here to visit AutoSuccess page.
Leadership — there are certainly a lot of diverse definitions to leadership, and different styles work for different people, organizations and structures. When approached to talk about leadership, I typically try to use examples that can be applied to all styles and personalities. Here, I will relate a recent personal experience.
I was recently lucky enough to take a vacation. I am fortunate that the company I am with promotes vacations and encourages them to be used and enjoyed. I can certainly remember in past positions where that was not always the case. While working in retail, a certain GM would always respond negatively to vacation requests with remarks, such as “Vacation? Didn’t you take one last year?” Once they finally succumbed, the vacation was highly regulated, such as “No you can’t take that week because we have a mail sale going on,” “It’s the end of the month” or some other reason as to why it was not a good time.
In any case, over the last few years I have taken my vacation the same month each year. Correspondingly, we would have one of our worst months in terms of new production — a facet for which I am held responsible. I began to take a fundamentally bad stance on this and somehow related it to me — that it was my absence, or that I was the center and cause, or lack there of, that resulted in the lower results. I related this to importance or an ego drive. In other words, a bad manager thinks that because they are gone, and the results are less, this makes them more intricate to the success. This somehow makes the manager more important and, thus, recognized for this, thereby increasing their worth to the company.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A good manager realizes that their team should be even better when they are not there to get in the way. A good manager has prepared their team and created a strong bench that can be called upon for success. Further, clear and concise goals are well understood by all team members. The truth is that a leader provides the tools, coaching and counseling to enable their team to find success, not be the success. That is where the ego can get in front of a paycheck.
Some of the goals and ideas I have implemented center around a true team atmosphere. Many people say this, but I rarely see it applied. I look at things differently. The sales department, as a rule and by nature, is competitive, and I certainly encourage that — but I also make it competitive on a team level. Bonuses are tied to activities and to team goals, not just individual ones. Further, “buddy” bonuses are implemented, and for six months, each salesperson has a sales buddy. This is a long-term approach to team building and allows for two salespeople in non-competing territories to assist each other and learn from one another, and not just learn additional sales skills or techniques; as a requirement, they have to learn about each other and their families, etc. At the end of the six-month period, team members are measured on a number of items, including their knowledge of each other, each other’s lives, what skills they learned and, of course, their combined production. Then, we switch and assign new sales buddies.
Too often, leaders are afraid of others or the success they may find. Great leaders are never afraid of others or their success and constantly strive for those around them to be better. They revel in the success others have, and they promote it. Great leaders constantly look for those who are better and push them to progress even further than they are. Not only do they learn from others, but also they promote and support them in every way possible.
The old adages are still true. A great leader will take all the blame and none of the credit. They realize that their job is to steer and support, not create. General Patton once turned an entire army and drove them for two days to save the 101st at the Battle of the Bulge. Once there, he did not fight, but directed and managed those around him. Be the General Patton of your own army.