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6 steps to great leadership

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50 Ways to lead your sales team interviewed author Michael Schofield

Bookboon author Michael Schofield, the expert behind 50 Ways to lead your sales team, gives us a closer look into his eBook, and answers questions about leadership and management. Have a look!

1. You mention 3 zones a worker can find themselves in: comfort, stretch or panic zone. How would you suggest an employee who is in their “comfort” zone evolve to their “stretch” zone? 

Operating in your stretch zone is about taking some risks and learning new things. Spend too long in your comfort zone and you will start to stagnate and become complacent. If you want to operate in your stretch zone you need to ask yourself what it is you would like to change. Taking on new challenges can be daunting but also exciting so look for opportunities to work on projects beyond your normal role and responsibilities, expand your network as this will open up new opportunities for you; ask to work with a mentor or explore options to study or add to your qualifications.

2. Mark Link’s quote in your book says that we have a blind spot when it comes to seeing ourselves. What exercises can we do to gain a better awareness of ourselves?

Write down the three words or phrases you think people would use to describe you and then go and ask 5-6 people for the three words or phrases that they would use to describe you. The key for this exercise is who you ask. You can stay in your comfort zone and only ask people who you have a good relationship with, or you can stretch yourself by asking those with whom you don’t have a strong relationship. Another option is to ask them what you should stop, start or continue doing in relation to your behaviour at work.

3. Do you have any tips for time prioritization?

The first step in effective time management is to have a plan, so you need to set aside time for planning your week or month and you should never encroach on your planning time. When planning your week don’t just look at work but set aside time for personal stuff, time for your partner, friends and family. Build contingency time into your plan, to allow you to be flexible when the inevitable emergencies and interruptions come along. We all have different body clocks so plan to deal with your most challenging tasks when you are at your most energetic. Covey’s Big Rocks is a great starting point when thinking about planning your time.

4. What about if the sales director just employed someone new? How would you describe the perfect first day for this new employee?

The first day is about making the new person feel valued, part of the team and reinforcing the feeling that they have made the right decision to join the company. They should meet their new team and spend time with their peer group, with the majority of the day spent with their line manager. The Line Manager should have a plan in place to take the new employee through their own boarding plan, so that they are clear on how they are going to be integrated into the business, what is expected of them in their first few months in the business and have an introduction to the policies and procedures at the company.

5. Let’s talk about body language. Let’s say someone is swamped with work and can’t seem to focus on what their colleague is asking them. How should they behave to show respect?

One of the most common criticisms of Leaders is that they don’t take time to listen to their people. When having a conversation it is important to ignore the emails, phone calls and other interruptions and to focus solely on that individual. Closing the laptop and turning to face the individual and giving them plenty of eye contact and allowing the other person to talk uninterrupted sends the message that this conversation is important. You can hear a lot in 2 minutes if you just keep quiet!

6. Can you tell us about your favourite (sales) leader in film? 

There are many films where sales (business) leaders aren’t portrayed in a good light; Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, Ben Affleck in Boiler Room, Kevin Spacey in Swimming with Sharks and Michael Douglas in Wall Street. All these leaders have one thing in common; a dubious set of values which result in them lacking empathy, being selfish and not caring about the best interests of customers or people that work for them. While they may achieve short term success they soon suffer a backlash from those around them and a fall from grace. They are great examples of how not to lead in today’s business world!

If you’d like to learn more about great ways to lead, download Michael Schofield’s eBook 50 Ways to lead your sales team.

50 Ways to lead your sales team