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Lead, Don’t Manage

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Good management is critically important. Moreover (and many people somehow fail to realize this), it’s an explicit, distinct skill. Being a good manager is critical to the success of your team; however, just being a good manager is never going to be enough to get your team to achieve at the highest levels. To drive top-level success, you don’t need to manage, you need to lead.

Too many sales managers rely too much on metrics and deadlines to drive performance. Highly effective managers find innovative ways to inspire team members, and then motivate and reward them in a public forum that brings out the best in them in a way that inspires everyone.

If you want to be a leader, you need to your superior mental energies and motivational force into the game. I can’t tell you how to do that. It’s different for every leader. George Patton and Bill Clinton were wildly different in their approach. And yet both were able to inspire greatness from those around them (no matter what you think of Bill’s political positions).

Truth be told, no one can teach you how to lead. All of those leadership self-help books are almost certainly doomed to failure, so don’t bother wasting your money. But what I can tell you is how to get started.

First, you need to really put forth your mental strength. You have to work both smarter and harder than everyone else. Second, you have to be in the trenches. Sure, as a leader you need to have a strategic perspective, and you need to spend a fair amount of time looking after the 50,000 foot view. But you also need to be out there in the field, pulling right alongside your team. You need to do the things they do, use the tools they use. You need to empathize with them, and they need to see you doing it. Third, you need to have a vision, and be able to sell it (though if you’re a sales manager, that last part shouldn’t be too hard). And finally, you need to be authentic. You have to actually mean what you say. Everything you say and do has to come from a place of power and truth, deep in your soul.

If you do those four things, you’ll start to see at a more tactical level what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll start to develop your own tools to make yourself the kind of leader that only you can be.