What is Leadership?
As many of you know from my bio here, my background hasn’t always included direct sales. I spent most of my life in the corporate world, and a part of that time included running my own business in the healthcare industry. In all of those things, I’ve always been a student of processes and held a particular interest in leadership. I’ve also held many different leadership roles, both in my work roles and in volunteer roles. It’s always been something that has fascinated me, and I’ve found those roles to be rewarding.
As I entered this new arena, I found myself wondering if leadership was different. Did those same principles work in the direct sales industry? Should those same things apply? And if so, how does leadership impact success in direct sales? My conclusion so far is that it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, good leadership is good leadership. The things that have been taught and passed down from great leaders apply to our lives, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.
What It’s Not
Before we talk about what it is, let’s talk about what it’s not. Having a title doesn’t make someone a leader. It’s simply a role. One thing I have noticed in this industry is that there is high value placed on those titles. Don’t misunderstand me, I love seeing my team gain promotions and new titles. Many years ago, I sat next to a man on a plane. He was a professional speaker and we had some great conversation about leadership. I was pleased to see later that Mark Sanborn had written a book, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. Leadership isn’t about the title you carry, it’s about how you care about people and what you do. The danger in our industry is putting so much value on those titles that you send the message to someone who is moving up in the ranks that until they have a title they’re not a leader. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
A very early mentor of mine once told me “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Leadership isn’t about knowledge. Yes, it’s good to understand the nuts and bolts of the company you’re with and you need to be able to teach that to others. Yet, all of that knowledge isn’t what makes one a leader.
One more thing I don’t believe leadership is–all about numbers. That is perhaps a little tougher in the direct sales industry because, well, it’s about sales, and sales equate to numbers. It’s why we see recognition of the “top sales” for a week or a month or a year. Those folks are the rainmakers that bring in the profits for the company. And while that may make them awesome salespeople, it doesn’t make them leaders.
What It Is
Perhaps my favorite author related to business and leadership is Seth Godin. His books have changed my life and I am grateful for his writing. In his book Tribes, he says:
What does a leader look like? I’ve met leaders all over the world, on several continents, and in every profession. I’ve met young leaders and old ones, leaders with big tribes and tiny ones. I can tell you this: leaders have nothing in common. They don’t share gender or income level or geography. There’s no gene, no schooling, no parentage, no profession. In other words, leaders aren’t born. I’m sure of it. Actually, they do have one thing in common. Every tribe leader I’ve met shares one thing: the decision to lead.
It is that decision to lead that makes a leader. From there, it’s about the qualities that make one a true leader. While there are many leadership styles, I believe the most effective leader is one who has an understanding of servant leadership. The servant leader does what they do for others. Here’s a short video with Ken Blanchard, another of my favorite authors, speaking about servant leadership.
It really is about caring about others and helping them identify why they are doing what they are doing, what outcome they want or where they are going, and what will guide their journey. That creates the compelling vision. It’s only after that where you can work together to create goals. I love what he says in this video about how goals have a meaningful relationship to the vision.
Is There a Difference?
In the end, I don’t believe there is a difference. Good leadership qualities are universal no matter what industry you happen to be in. Leaders care about their team, or their tribe as Seth Godin calls them. Their highest desire is to see the success of others. They gain their own rewards by helping others succeed.
I believe this is the reason it’s so important to choose your mentors and leaders wisely. The beauty of the direct sales business is that we get to select our leader. Interview people, be sure your values are aligned, and be sure that you are aligning yourself with a leader who is going to be supportive of your vision. Doing this will have a major impact on the success of your business. It matters, it really does.
If you’d like to hear more about Team Charmed Inspiration, I invite you to join us for our opportunity calls this week. These are being held Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. Mountain time, and Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m. Mountain time. Here’s how you can connect to the call:
Call in number: 559-726-1300
Participant Code: 5742331
I hope to see you there! We’d love to share the South Hill Designs opportunity with you!
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