Leadership/Management Development – By Larry Freedman
These best practices can help build teams and results
As a sales leader for more than 25 years, I’ve been blessed to have several role models and mentors, who have guided me throughout my journey. I’ve been taught countless “leadership lessons” during my tenure, but here I’m going to highlight five that have made the greatest impact on me.
These are transferrable to any industry and have contributed greatly to building strong team culture and driving sales results. The lessons are:
1. When you try to “hold someone accountable,” they may be compliant, but when you “inspire accountability,” you gain their commitment. This is perhaps an obvious statement, but over the years, I’ve heard the phrase “hold accountable” countless times. It never resonated with me because it felt like I was making someone do something, not inspiring them to do it.
Gaining “buy-in” and creating a “why” are much more likely to inspire passion, with someone taking an action because they believe in the mission or task. Tapping into someone’s discretionary effort is much more likely to yield a positive result.
2. Constructive feedback without a relationship can land as criticism. This is often the case because trust hasn’t been established yet, so the leader’s intent isn’t fully understood. When this happens, the person receiving the constructive feedback may “shut down” and become concerned about their job performance.
Therefore, it’s critical that one of the first things a leader puts emphasis on is their relationship with each team member. From there, it’s much easier and more effective to have “difficult conversations,” should the need arise.
3. Always be building your network, both inside and outside of your organization, and never take anyone or anything for granted. Having a strong network is important because you are creating a group of people who “have your back” and are willing to support you. The most critical element of this relationship is authenticity, meaning you aren’t networking solely based on what someone can do for you.
This type of “transactional” connection is disingenuous and not sustainable. You should also always be willing to reciprocate in a genuine and meaningful way.
4. Make every interaction count and leave people better than you found them. As a leader, your impact can be lasting and profound. In the words of Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is so true and critically important because just one interaction can shape someone’s perception of you and your organization forever. Even if you are having a bad day for whatever reason, you need to take this responsibility seriously, and strive to leave a positive and lasting impression.
5. Vulnerability, sincerity and humility build trust and create followership. Sometimes, “I don’t know but I’ll find out” is the best and most impactful answer.
As a leader, it’s important to be relatable to your team, and to let them know that you make mistakes too! By doing this, you create a culture where people are willing to “speak up” and tell you the truth, versus paying lip service to what they think you want to hear. Knowing the truth about a situation is the quickest way to improving it.
By incorporating these five lessons into your leadership style, you will create a highly engaged team, willing to do whatever it takes to exceed their goals. They will (metaphorically speaking) “run through walls for you,” and enjoy doing it! I want to thank the great leaders who taught me these lessons, all of whom I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Larry Freedman is a senior commercial director in the pharmaceutical industry. Email Larry at email@example.com.