Archive for the ‘Business Leadership’ Category

Are You An Authentic or Just Charismatic Sales Leader?

Would you rather be an authentic or a charismatic sales leader?  This early Saturday morning question surfaced as I read a posting over on LinkedIn.  The posting linked to this HBR article.

sales-leaderMany people fall for the charismatic salesperson.  These are the folks with the warm smile and firm handshake. They seem to make that immediate emotional connection.  Their solutions appears to be want the sales prospect wants to needs.

Then after the checked has been received, the delivery made, these charismatic sales leaders can never be found. Excuses are made as to why something didn’t get done. Often times they will pass the buck, blame others.  Long term customers are really not their goal.

Authentic leaders appear not to be as charismatic.  They also have the warm smile and the firm handshake. Making an emotional connection may not be as immediate.  Unlike the charismatic sales leaders, they are around after the sale.  These individuals do not make excuses for them as the buck stops with them.

Another difference between the authentic and charismatic sales leader is their audience.  As I noted in the LinkedIn comment, the reason some people fall for the charismatic leaders is the internal desire for the quick fix.

Most of us internally want the quick fix even though we know the results probably will not be sustainable.  Time is precious and time is money.  When we can have those quick fixes, we then can go on to other important matters and happiness will follow.

We know this to be true if we look at all those quick fix products sold from the self improvement industry, the health industry to the sales industry.  Many of them are sold by charismatic people.  And yet the problems are still very much present.

Probably the most notable difference is authentic leaders are guided by non-negotiable positive core values (business ethics) while for some charismatic leaders they will do or say whatever they need to do or say to get their prospects to take action.  They may promise the moon (oversell the solution) or make negative comments about the competition. Again for them winning is everything and the heck with positive core values.

Each of us in sales has a choice to be an authentic sales leader or a charismatic one.  For me I prefer the former because I will never sacrifice my positive core values for a quick buck.

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Fog Lines and Guard Rails on the Sales Leadership Road

Possibly you may be wondering what do fog lines and guard rails have to do with traveling the sales leadership road?  Probably more than you realize.

sales-leadershipFog lines are the outside white lines that let you know you are close to running off the paved road onto the shoulder if there is a shoulder.  These lines were not always part of the American road system, but started appearing in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Recent court decisions affirm that fog lines are part of the roadway.

For those in sales leadership, fog lines are part of your sales’ behaviors specifically your positive core values (business ethics).  When you cross the fog line, you have crossed or compromised your values. This compromise might be something as simple as a little white lie about:

  • The delivery date of your solution
  • How many people actually have downloaded your app
  • Your total number of new customers or total annual sales

Another simple crossing of the fog line could be gossiping about other employees to your competitors.

Now the guard rails keeps the car on the road especially when there is no shoulder and immediate danger lurks on the other side of the guardrail such as a steep mountain cliff.  Guard rails are the positive core values (think business ethics) each professional business person holds true and will not cross.

How many times have you failed to honor your positive core values? Did this failure impact your ability to lead as well as to increase sales?

Personally I believe one’s positive core values have a direct correlation to one’s sales leadership effectiveness. There are some who agree with me including the author of From Values to Action.

Many in sales leadership roles have not invested the time to commit to writing their positive core values. Maybe the organization’s values statement is enough for them. Yet, when we know what our own guard rails are, then we have much greater clarity when we cross that fog line and begin to compromise our sales leadership.

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The Ultimate Leadership Question Is?

Probably you have your most favorite leadership question because it works. Over the years I have discovered this to be for me as well as for my clients the ultimate leadership question an effective sales leader, manager or CEO can ask:

What do you need from me to allow you to complete this task to secure the desired result?

The reason I believe this is the ultimate leadership question goes back to Peter Drucker’s first definition of leadership:

“Leadership is all about results.”

When this ultimate leadership question is asked many elements are put into play in a very simplistic manner.  No need for a lot of questions.

Leaders are those who gets results from others as well as themselves.  This question is not only results focused, but allows for humility from the leader.  How many leaders humble themselves in front of those they lead?

This question does not focus on the person being led but the focus is on the leader and how well he or she communicated the following:

  • The task to be completed
  • The desired results

There is also a subtle reference to the resources available and the capacity of the person being asked to perform the task.  Did the leader provide the resources necessary to perform the task?  This question ensures the person being led knows what the resources are or provides the opportunity to ask for additional resources.

When the person being asked to secure the desired results has the opportunity to think about what he or she needs from the leader, this provides additional insight into that person’s talents such as:

Of course this question to be both efficient and effective, should be asked on a Friday afternoon to give the person being led time to think about what he or she actually requires to complete the task and secure the desired result.

Another intrinsic benefit of this question is it allows for in real time performance review.  Since the person being led has both the opportunity to reflect as well as to request additional support, then this reduces the limitations that may impact securing desired results.

When the person being led returns on Monday morning with her or his response, the leader then can take the appropriate actions such as confirm target date, supply any additional resources, etc.  Now it is the responsibility of the leader (delegation) to monitor the progress by asking for daily or weekly updates depending upon the scope and size of the task.

Yes there are many good leadership questions, however I believe when we render many of those excellent questions down, this one rises to the top.

Care to know more about how to identify specific talents in your sales culture?  Click here to talk with Leanne Hoagland-Smith and you may gain just another leadership or sales nugget.

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Can You Afford Not to Delegate?

Delegation is a way of thinking and doing.  For many in business leadership roles, the ability to delegate is not a talent widely embraced. The reasons for this lack of delegation are many including:



  • No time
  • No money
  • No knowledge about available resources
  • No confidence in employees – fear in hiring wrong people
  • No confidence in themselves – fear of making a mistake

A recent report released by Salesforce Research of 300 small business owners revealed most small business owners rely on outdated and manual processes such as email and spreadsheets to store customer information.  This reliance on outdated processes is further wasting their limited time.

When reading this research, it appears the talent to delegate is a significant limiting factor to embracing newer processes especially when those processes are technology driven.  Most of these business leaders are the decision makers and appear to have time constraints as their number one limiting factor.

Truly forward thinking business owners bite the bullet so to speak and invest the time to find those resources to propel their enterprise forward.  These individuals accept there is an immediate, short term hit to cash flow and profitability yet in the long term they recognize not to take action will leave them even further behind the flow.

What I know from SMB owners to sales professionals to even frontline customer service people, all waste at least 12 minutes a day.  This wasted time translates to one hour per week.  If a business owner would schedule 15 uninterrupted minutes each day with intentional actions to research and then delegate some of his or her activities to others, he or she would have more time and probably even more dollars.

Additionally by embracing a proven goal setting process along with a functional tool (goal worksheet), business leaders can track their delegation and stay even more organized in less time.  What must take place is to step over the fear and the other limiting factors because the failure to embrace delegation will only further constrict sustainable business growth.

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Why Do Entrepreneurs Expect Employees to Be Mind Readers?

Attention entrepreneurs, do you become frustrated with how your employees communicate with you?  Does this frustration often times turn into aggravation to even developing a negative attitude toward one or more employees? Then there is a proven solution for you provided you have clarity before you make the your buying decision.

entrepreneursPossibly most of your frustration comes from a misalignment between how you receive your communication and how your employees deliver their communication? This misalignment creates a communication gap and over time this gap can increase unless you take the right action.

Giving employees communication training is potentially a good right action provided they understand how you as the business leader communicates.  Unfortunately what happens is the lack of clarity around how you best receive communication is never addressed. Communication is a two-way street not a one-way street. Your employees are not mind readers. Let me repeat that in big, bold letters.

Entrepreneurs – Your employees are not mind readers!

Imagine for a moment if your employees knew what to do and what not to do when communicating with you? Then imagine if you could adjust your communication style to work better with your employees, how

  • Much time could you save?
  • Many negative feelings could be reduced to eliminated?
  • Could your overall team productivity and results improve?

Research suggests most entrepreneurs are high problem solvers and work at a very fast pace.  They want to receive communication in a specific way such as being very specific as to what needs to be done.  Entrepreneurs also do not like to hear wild speculations without factual support.  Also research suggests most employees especially not at the C-Level give and receive communication in a very different way.  So far this same research has not revealed employees to be mind readers.

The solution to close this gap, reduce your frustration is available provided you have clarity as to what limiting your ability to effectively travel this two way street of communication.

Entrepreneurs -Take advantage of this special offer until 2/28/2017 and receive not only the DISC Index (a proven solution for effective communication), but the Values Index (what motivates you) and the Attribute Index (your 78 key talents). CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Self Leadership Is Required in Sales

In business there has always been a lot of attention directed to leadership.  Yet far lesser attention to this idea of self leadership.  As has been noted earlier, many presume people know how to lead themselves through earlier educational experiences.  However, research shows self leadership which falls into that bucket of people or soft skills is sorely lacking.

self-leadershipPeter Drucker said leadership is all about results.

Self leadership is about the individual getting results.

To secure the desired results begins with these two mindsets:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Motivation

Continuous improvement is a mindset where one is always challenging the status quo; looking toward the future and making changes if and when necessary. Sometimes the status quo is working and to make a change for the sake of making a change is simply ridiculous.

Motivation is also a mindset because the mind is what controls all behavior.  Using the Theory of Self Determination allows individuals to identify what is limiting their motivation:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose (as it relates to people)

In some sales training or business leadership programs, self leadership is included as a subset of sales skills or even talent development. Again there is a presumption people have the capacity and consistently demonstrate this capacity.

If this was true,

  • why do 44% of salespeople give up after making one call? (Source: Scripted)
  • why do the average salespeople make only two attempts to contact a sales lead or prospect? (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Continuous improvement and motivation are essential in securing results and working with the other aspects within the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model. Top sales performers do not rely on the business in providing the incentive for ongoing learning or motivation through recognition or rewards.

In today’s world with so many solo entrepreneurs as well as businesses with under 20 employees, business leadership and sales leadership are partners. These two roles must work together to achieve sustainable business growth.

Until 2/28/2017, learn what motivates you as well as how your behave and what is driving your decision making process through this special opportunity.


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You Would Think a Leadership Consultant Could Follow Directions

Yesterday I attended an early morning local B2B networking event. The host asked everyone in the room to just state his or her name and his or her business. He emphasized not to give a 30 second introduction because there were over 30 people at this event. The first 15 people followed his directions. Then a leadership consultant not only gave his name and his company, he went out for another 10 second to provide additional information.

leadership-consultantA colleague sitting next to me said:

“Just your name and your company, I guess he doesn’t follow directions very well.”

Internally my thought echoed my colleague’s as well as this leadership consultant is:

  • Ego (strong) driven
  • Disrespectful of others (weak values, business ethics)
  • Very desperate for business (increase sales)
  • Clueless about B2B networking protocol

When someone who engages in leadership consulting demonstrates such poor leadership behaviors, he gives many other leadership consultants or leadership coaches a bad rap.

Leadership is about leading yourself first before you can lead others. This also means. at least for me. you must also demonstrate consistently positive core values or what some call business ethics.

Effective leaders know how to follow directions. Within the Attribute Index as published by Innermetrix, there are 78 key talents and following directions is one of them.  This talent is described as:

“The ability to effectively hear, understand and follow directions or instructions.  It is the willingness of an individual to postpone making personal decisions, or taking action, until they have openly listened to do what they are being asked to do.”

The  three (3) key words for this sales leadership talent are:

  • Hear (effectively)
  • Understand (postpone making personal decisions)
  • Follow (do)

Additionally at this talent is applied to this leadership consultant, he

“…may have difficulty completing tasks according to the directions.  Again, it is less an indication that they do not intellectually understand the instructions being given, but rather that they simply feel they can make adequate decisions and successfully accomplish the task on there own, without the need for additional input…indicates a person’s tendency to discount outside instructions and rely on their own innate abilities…regardless of competency. (Source: Innermetrix)

Yesterday’s leadership consultant failed miserably at leveraging this talent. His ego was so consumed in his own world and needs, he insulted everyone else.

What is even more ironic is his website refers to changing behaviors. My sense is he better start looking inside to his own behaviors.

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Leadership or Sales Temperament the Confusion Continues

For the last several months we have been hearing about leadership temperament. In working with executive coaching and sales coaching clients, I hear considerable questions regarding sales temperament. Sometimes people believe leadership and sales temperaments are mutually exclusive. No the reality is they are mutually inclusive.



First what is temperament?  I continually return to the Attribute Index’s Technical manual that defines temperament as:

The degree of optimism or pessimism with which you tend to view the world around you.  Each of us can choose to see things in an overly positive or negative light but having a neutral view is preferential.

Additionally, according to the Attribute Index, we all have two temperaments:

  • External – How we view the outside world, others
  • Internal – How we view our own internal world, ourselves

Within the Attribute Index, there are 20 external temperament patterns and 20 internal temperament patterns.

Note: The Attribute Index is a psychometric assessment based upon the works of Dr. Hartman and the field Axiology. You may find this article,  “Would you ride an unproven rollercoaster? Maybe you just did when you bought that psychometric assessment,” of interest if you are considering any psychometric assessment.

Whether we are in a leadership role or a sales role, our temperament remains the same, We can be extremely positive, extremely negative, or neutral.

What I have learned after reviewing and debriefing over 500 of these psychometric assessments is many people recognize their own temperaments both external and internal with greater clarity than their decision making styles or key talents.  People for the most part know of their own degrees of optimism or pessimism.

If my corporate and sales coaching clients have any surprises, it comes from the actual description based upon the three dimensions of thought that act as the foundation for this information.

  • Systems (analytical) or Thinking – Head
  • Intrinsic (emotional) or Feeling – Heart
  • Extrinsic (practical) or Doing – Hands

At the end of the day, there is no difference in our leadership temperament or sale temperament. What is different is the role and how we make decisions based upon that role.

If you wish to learn more about a incredibly accurate assessment that can be tailored to your leadership role or sales role, click here to schedule time in this calendar or text me at 219.508.2859.

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Your Greatest SMB Asset Is…?

What is the greatest SMB asset?  Your solutions (products or services)? Your building or location? Your customer base?  Your bank balance? Yes, these are all great assets. However, your greatest SMB asset should be your people.

SMB assetToo often SMBs fail to protect this greatest asset.  For people are not view as capital, but as liabilities.  For example, when sales lag or business slows down, people followed by the marketing budget are the first to be cut.  People are view as too expensive given the current economic downturn.

Businesses exist to make money and more importantly to make a profit. To achieve this goal requires people because even with the advent of current technology, people are still required to stock the shelves for orders, process the orders, ship the orders, reconcile the receivables and handle all customer service inquiries.

From the smallest to the Fortune 100 companies, the investment in human capital through talent management should be next to marketing as the primary business building strategies. For example, if you have long term salespersons who regularly bring high sales and are low maintenance, do you affirm their contributions or are you resentful of their salaries?

As a business coach and sales coach, I have observed many in business leadership roles creating toxic sales cultures , directly and indirectly, in hopes that the high salary and high productive sales person will quit in order to replace him or her with a lower salary person.  Management will take action from changing accounts to showing special treatment to the new hire while ignoring the productive salespersons.

Remember, your people will make or break your company. When you view them as an asset instead of a liability, you may see your balance sheet in an entirely different perspective.

Give Leanne a call at 219.508.2859 if you are interested in protecting and growing this greatest SMB asset or schedule a brief call on her calendar by clicking HERE.

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Are You a Firefighter or a SMB Owner?

Are you are SMB Owner? In the book It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, but It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow, the authors revealed that majority of executives and  the SMB owners spend less than 15 minutes a day working on their business.  Their business leadership time is mostly devoted to fighting yesterday’s and today’s fires.

SMB-ownerThink about last week and how much time you spent on small to large fires.  These fires ranged from late employees to unsatisfied customers.  The results were unproductive meetings to a lot of re-working or re-do’s.  Stress was high and you had an occasional thought questioning your sanity in starting this business as you see your profits continue to dwindle.

So how do you transform from being a firefighter to becoming a results driven, forward thinking SMB owner or even sales professional?  First thing is to make an appointment with yourself each day to think about the future of the business.  Take 30 minutes early in the morning to review current goals, assess your dashboard of key performance indicators and revisit the vision you established for your company.

Next, communicate the business goals clearly to all employees.  In the “E-Myth,” Michael Gerber looked at how entrepreneurs need to let go and not be everything to everybody. When your goals are known and expectations are set, you are empowering your people to take responsibility and accountability for achieving these goals.

Of course this communication does suggest you have engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning and thinking process. You have a written strategic plan that you revisit weekly.

Finally, make sure your people are able to handle the fires.  No employee comes to work to intentionally “mess up the business.”  However, very few employees have been developed to be excellent communicators, effective decision-makers and consistent goal achievers. Human capital is the greatest asset of any business and usually the most underdeveloped.

Yes you can turn the tide from being the reactionary fire fighter to the proactive SMB owner or sales professional.  The choice as in other aspect of life is 100% up to you.  This is not the time for excuses because losers make excuses, winners take action.

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