Sales Leadership The Talent of Self Starting Ability

Imagine for a moment a sales leadership team of  individuals all demonstrating the self starting ability to do what they need to do without being told or extrinsically motivated.  These self starters only come to you in sales management or as the small business owner when they have questions beyond their job descriptions or need clarification specific to current operating policies and procedures provided your firm has them. They remind you of tops that once set spinning continue to spin (work) without very much assistance from you in sales management or as the small business owner.


Daniel Pink in his book Drive discusses the different types of motivation that have evolved within the workforce.  He chides business for not incorporating proven motivational research into job descriptions, rewards and the overall organizational culture. Pink writes about:

  • Self determination theory (SDT)
  • Results only work environment (ROWE)
  • How sales goals are counter productive
  • McGregor’s  Theory X and Y
  • Pinks Theory X and Type I

His book attempts to bridge the gap between what science understands about motivation, how to improve employee engagement given that up to 75% of all employees are not fully engaged (Gallup) and what business actually does. The focus is truly about individuals who have this sales leadership talent of self starting ability and allowing them to flourish within the organization’s culture.

So what is self starting ability?

“The ability to find one’s own motivation for accomplishing a task, and the degree to which a person will maintain that course in the face of adversity.  This capacity is somewhat dependent on a person’s level of persistence, focus and initiative.” (Source Innermetrix)

Self starting ability is not about rewards or compensation as this is 100% internally motivated. This is why extrinsic rewards such as money, prizes, etc. are short term fixes that require “continued ante up” actions.

Self starting ability is begins from one’s belief that he or she can face adversity. These sales people adopt their own positive affirmations or positive belief statements that keep them going and going when others may fall to the wayside. These individuals also display excellent critical thinking skills because they are focused on the desired end results.

People who display self starting ability are adept at “synchronizing their internal drivers (e.g., level of initiative, persistence, goal focus, etc.), and directing these combined abilities toward a common goal or task.  They are also capable of marshaling these strengths on their own without much external supervision or motivation.” (Source Innermetrix)

Conversely, those who may not have self starting ability as a strong talent may “require greater external influence to accomplish their goals, or become distracted from the target more easily then someone with a higher score.” (Source Innermetrix)

From my experience, those in sales leadership with this key talent are in many cases asking themselves “What if” type questions as they proceed toward their own WAY SMART goals. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  When goals are owned by the salesperson (the Y for YOURS in WAY), the ability to consistently achieve those goals is dramatically increased.

Sales leadership is truly about self leadership because if you cannot lead yourself first, you cannot lead anyone else.  Having this talent of self starting ability is probably one of the first strengths required in today’s highly competitive, global market place.  The challenge is first finding those sales people with this talent and even more importantly ensuring the alignment between the organization’s culture and this talent.  Even the best sales people look bad in a bad system.

P.S. Each Tuesday in 2012, this blog will explore sales leadership and the specific talents necessary to not only increase sales, but to become a more results driven and ethically caring individual. These talents are based upon Dr. Hartman’s work as published the the Innermetrix Performance Appraisal tool.

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