Becoming a Better Sales Leader During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the ultimate validation of the importance of leadership abilities for sales managers. In addition to navigating their teams through incredibly challenging business conditions, many sales managers have had to almost overnight re-engineer how their sales teams sell to remote customers.
To emerge stronger from this crisis, now’s a great time to focus on how you can become an even better sales leader by developing your personal abilities.
Think of a great leader from history who faced challenging circumstances (e.g., Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King), or maybe a great business leader that you have worked with. What are some of their crucial leadership characteristics? Maybe you think of their communication or motivational abilities, or their vision, integrity, or optimism comes to mind.
Some of these qualities are skills, while others are personal abilities. These are the unique characteristics, traits, and personality, which, together, make up who these people are as leaders. A personal ability is not what you do, but who you are. It’s an overall perception of characteristics, traits, and personality, which, together, make up a positive image of the leader.
What do You Want to Change?
While some personal abilities are innate, you can develop and improve your personal abilities. However, because personal abilities are personality and behavioral characteristics, they are hard to measure and difficult to change and develop.
So, how can you change a behavior or personality trait? Change or development is a long-term process. Recognizing how you want to develop your abilities is an essential first step in becoming a better leader. Deciding how you want to develop yourself as a leader requires a strong personal commitment.
Consider a basic sales leadership personal ability, such as being a good role model. If this were one of the areas you wanted to develop, what are some of the actions you could take?
You could start by identifying the behaviors you wanted your team to emulate and then demonstrate them yourself.
For example, assume you want your team to be positive and energized, even when times are tough. You could challenge yourself to demonstrate a positive, action-oriented attitude in your tone, words, and actions. Or, if you wanted your team to work harder and be more task-oriented, you could set the standard by starting work early, avoiding long lunch breaks, and focusing on completing your tasks.
Each of these is a concrete action step you could take, if being a better role model was one of your priorities.
Steps for Developing Your Personal Leadership Abilities
It can be hard to envision how you might cultivate a leadership trait like having a “sincere and open personality” or having “pride in doing an effective job.” How can you develop your personal abilities that seem so innate? Let’s look at some tangible steps you can take for developing your personal abilities:
- Visualize the kind of leader you want to be. How would you like to see yourself behave? How would you like others to think of you?
- Observe the people that demonstrate the personal traits you aspire to. What do you admire about them? What do you observe about their tone, words, actions, and attitudes? How do other people respond to them?
- Identify tools and resources to help you practice and adopt those traits. In addition to books and classes, consider finding a mentor, coach, or thought partner. Working with someone with whom you can be honest and who will be honest with you can be invaluable to your growth as a person and as a sales leader.
- Practice, practice, practice. Look for daily opportunities to hone your new skills and behaviors. Just like any new skill, improvement happens slowly over time. Be persistent through the discomfort of learning.
- Track your progress. Keep a journal of your growth. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Capture your goals, your observations about yourself, and how others respond to you as you develop your personal traits.
- Commit yourself to improving as a sales leader. Ask your peers, team, and manager to help you identify what you’re doing that’s working, and opportunities for improvement.
The bottom line is that developing your personal abilities will require a long-term commitment. The payoff is worth it as you become the leader your team will follow because of the trust, confidence, and respect they have in you.
About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.