Yesterday I got a call from the Training Manager of a leading pharmaceutical company. She wanted to know how a Leadership program could support the sales personnel to perform better.
“I do understand the importance of Leadership in rewriting the future of an organisation”, she said to me. “But to a sales guy all this seems airy fairy stuff with no value. What he needs are tools and techniques which would allow him to effectively close some prospects and achieve his target.”
“So would that imply that the Sales personnel, in-spite of their selling experience and closeness to customers, are falling short of organisational expectations?” I asked.
“Well that is what the corporate guys in Head Office seem to think”, the training manager confided.
I did not have the heart to tell her that the solution lay not in new tools and techniques but a shift in how and what shows up when confronted with a business challenge. And that in essence is what leadership is all about.
For a start, we need to un-hinge our self from a “fixated to the past” mindset. To do that we need to first understand what this “fixated in the past” mindset is all about.
Our brains are hardwired to view an emerging situation through the lens of our past experiences. What is merely needed is copy paste what worked in the past to find a solution in the future. We are thus conditioned to believe that a person with a ten year sales experience would perform better than someone with lesser experience.
But what the above mindset assumes is some kind of continuity of the environment and all that it represents. The competition and its response. The buyer and his decision making behaviour. The technology and product gaps. And so on.
The third millennium however is all about discontinuity, disruption and accelerating change. In every which way one could think of. Be it competition and emerging strategies, buyer psyche, technology and products. The beacons of our past experience are no longer effective to handle this.
So we come back to the aspects of Leadership that could support performance in this era of discontinuity, disruption and accelerating change. Be it in Sales or some other business domain.
- The awareness that you do not know. You cannot upgrade your performance if you already know all there is to know.
- Say YES to being pushed away from the beaten track and into the discomfort of the unknown. It is such discomforts that unhinge you from fixated beliefs and mindsets.
- Avoid assessments during a situation. This leads to hasty reactions based on the ‘what worked in the past’ mindset. Effective reflection and assessment can only happen after a situation has occurred. And this is when the space for new learning opens up.