Paul Smith is the Sales Director of a leading pharmaceutical company. He has been in the industry for the last 10 years and has been a star in his various sales and marketing roles. His recent promotion, finds him managing managers. His leadership style has always been one of pace setting and leading by example. Having just gone through a sales force downsizing Paul has adopted an inspirational leadership style.
Many people say they lead by inspiration or that they strive to inspire excellence in sales. But what exactly does it mean to "inspire?" The word inspiration comes from the Latin word "spiarae" which means to breathe, to live. It is defined as:
a. To stimulate to action; motivate
b. To affect or touch
To this effect, Paul has worked very hard over the last 6 months to win the hearts of his sales management team and sales force. He has tried to personally connect with all members of the teams. He has met face to face with every rep in the sales force and has also met with many of the key opinion leaders. Positive comments like "this is the first time a sales director has met with me" coupled with endless requests to meet with customers has been an encouraging sign for Paul that this approach has merit.
As he has evolved from a manager to a leader, Paul recognizes that the best way to achieve extraordinary results is to inspire his team. Paul has always been a dynamo and a self starter. He has continually pushed himself to achieve. As a result of his drive and enthusiasm he has quickly been promoted into roles of greater responsibility. He has developed innovative sales programs and conducted exciting sales meetings that leave reps feeling highly motivated. He takes the time to recognise his people by sending encouraging notes and making inspirational speeches at sales meetings.
Paul is the type of leader that that can motivate the people around him to achieve extraordinary results.
Let's see how Paul's organizations inspires him ....
Sales leaders are responsible for meeting company revenue targets, motivating their teams and ensuring customer satisfaction. Interestingly, most large organizations make it difficult for these people to make a difference. They burden sales leaders with support people who complicate decision making, put up road blocks and prevent innovation. In fact, the decision making power shifts from these leaders to support positions that have little contact with the customers.
In Paul's case, there are several non performing sales reps on the team, whom Paul would love to fire. HR and legal mandate that these reps are put on a performance improvement program for at least 6 months. Which Paul knows will only continue to have a negative impact on sales performance. Despite Paul's development of some innovative programs, Paul and his team routinely come up against bureaucracy and road blocks.
Paul has found that even the smallest initiatives require discussions and approvals which continually drain his energy.
As a result, organizations inadvertently sap the enthusiasm and energy of their top leaders, them leaving them frustrated, burnt out and ready to leave.
Who does Paul share his frustrations with? Where does he go for inspiration?
The Boss: His boss is far too busy and only reaches out when sales are down or there is an issue. In his present position, his boss is no longer an option. Paul's boss has his own issues to deal with. He expects Paul to identify the problems and solve them. The last thing Paul wants is to appear that he is not on top of his business.
His Peers: Early in his career Paul had many peers with whom he could discuss his frustrations with. Now they are distrustful and battle with him for resources and recognition.
His Direct Reports: Paul wants to shield them from bigger issues.
His Spouse: Paul's spouse will listen to his problems, but even though she is sympathetic, she is not in any position to assist him.
His Executive Coach: This is the best place to start. Paul's coach is able to provide him with a non-judgemental sounding board.
All discussions are held in confidence. His coach is a friend, motivator and mentor. Paul reaps the benefits of having a coach. He leaves sessions energized, inspired and more confident to tackle his most critical issues.
There are 5 Ways to stay inspired in a non supportive high stress environment:
1. Hire an executive coach - Coaching provides executives with ongoing learning, focus, and personal accountability for development and inspiration. It is by far the best way for executives to stay focused and inspired. Executives who experience the power of coaching swear by it!
2. Read inspirational books - There are many leadership books and self-help books out on the market. Find the one that speaks to you. Sharpening your skills by continuous reading helps stimulate new ideas and reinforce the wonderful things you are doing.
3. Take mental breaks - Take a day off to extend your weekend. Take one day for yourself and reflect on your priorities and personal goals. Getting perspective helps you stay focused and inspired.
4. Exercise and eat well - A dose of healthy living, including regular exercise and diet help recharge your batteries and are proven stress busters. Personal health is usually is one of the first things that go by the waiste side in a hectic life style. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
5. Take a leadership course - On-going development is a good source of inspiration and learning. External courses provide leaders with an opportunity to interact with like-minded executives and gain different perspectives.
Regardless which options you choose, it is essential that you stay motivated because your people need your energy as a source of inspiration. Good Luck!
Steven Rosen, MBA is a sales management expert who helps companies transform sales managers into great sales coaches. Steven's works with sales executives to; hire top performing sales reps and managers, develop their team into top sales managers and achieve greater personal and professional success.