Motivating yourself as a sales leader. So you’ve motivated your team, but what about yourself?
If you were to search ‘sales motivation’ on any search engine you would be presented with dozens of upbeat articles on what you should be doing to keep your people fired up and productive. And do not get me wrong; in normal times, they are all really valid and insightful.
However, over the last few weeks my conversations with sales leaders and managers have cemented the idea that we are inhabiting a new landscape, and the pressures on leaders has only been intensified. Questions I hear most commonly are things like “Will I have to fire my team?” and “how do I keep the Financial Director at bay whilst we re-work our approach?” Perhaps the most sobering question: “Will our customers ever come back?”
It’s certainly hard motivating yourself and staying positive with these issues pressing down. Which is why it’s not surprising I’m also asked a question that some leaders are embarrassed to ask…
“How am I supposed to motivate others when I have little motivation myself?”
Well here are a few thoughts that I feel will be helpful to you.
Resiliency – how robust am I feeling now?
Over the past 15 years I have discussed the concept of resiliency in leadership with many groups. There’s usually a mixed and somewhat muted reaction from people. People used to think they needed to keep going when faced with trying circumstances. However, it is safe to say i’m now hearing responses that range from ‘the sky is falling in’ to reserved optimism and phrases uttered through gritted teeth, like ‘I’m looking at new opportunities.’ Many leaders are in this challenging position of responding to directors and shareholders on one side and team members looking for direction on the other. If you identify with any of these situations, you are not alone. That’s the unique nature of leadership.
So now, it’s time for honesty: how resilient are you now? During the Advanced Sales Leadership Programme, we explore in detail how you can assess your resiliency, but more importantly we focus on the methods of support. A key learning from these sessions is ‘don’t suffer in silence.’ Seek out and confide in the people you trust, especially peers or colleagues who understand that you may not feel at liberty as a boss to showcase your fears and frustrations. Combining this with health-related stress relief – diet, exercise, etc. – can help you keep a solid footing for you to then address the needs of others.
Understanding the change curve
Another key concept in of my course is the nature of change and how it affects sales teams and their leaders. We use the Kubler Ross change curve – known to many change managers in business – to represent how we transition through the stages of shock, denial, depression, etc. through to the acceptance stage.
As professionals looking logically at this, we know we will come out at the other side but, here is the important message for you, the leader: there will be moments of relapse and that’s OK. The key thing is to understand when this is happening and use your support system and methods to get you back on track. You, just like your customers, your directors and your teams, are human. Recognising the realities of emotional change in the workplace can only help broaden your abilities and your overall resilience. Or, to borrow from parlance we hear each day on the news, your goal is to ‘flatten the curve.’
Maintaining your emotional intelligence
The best leaders possess a well-tuned balance of being self and socially aware, self-managed and demonstrating exemplary social skills. Our ‘new normal’ risks throwing that out of kilter. Remember, as a sales leader your role is to keep your team selling. How you engage with your team now is more vital than ever.
Talk to your people, listen to what is going on with them. It’s OK for some self-disclosure on your part, but now more than ever people are looking for direction and clarity so they can keep their heads in the game. The key things you can control, are the consistencies in your communications and actions, so your team can get on with a harder job than they had just a few weeks ago.
So, motivating yourself, take a few deep breaths. It will be OK. These are unprecedented times. The key is to bolster your own resilience and expand your emotional intelligence – and be ready to lead your sales team into a new future.
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Associate tutor of In Professional Development