Leadership is action, not position.

Recently I worked with a company who has a team of “rookie” outside sales reps. The goal of these reps is to consistently exceed a goal that increases by $750.00 gross profit per month for 24 months at which point they are no longer a rookie and can make a substantial amount of money.

All sounds great until I looked into the success rate of this business and saw, the company hires on an average 12 “rookies” per year, and in the last ten years only four have made it out of the rookie stage, and of those four only two are still with the company.

You don’t have to be a business expert to understand that a 1% success rate is atrocious. Something was broken here; the wheel was not only squeaking, but it was bogged down with so much gunk that it was barely even moving.

Now I understand that sales have an abnormal churn rate in employment, it’s the nature of the beast, but 99%? The company recruited well, and had a group of people that an astute sales manager would love to have on their team, the talent wasn’t the problem. This business transacted in the third largest industry in the world, so their product wasn’t the problem. This left one factor to place the blame on… LEADERSHIP!

If the sales reps missed quote for three months in a row they were fired (fairly typical in sales). The sales manager, however, was not held to any accountability in regards to the reps poor sales. The attitude of the company and the sales manager was “I can’t make them do it; they have to want it.” While this is true to an extent, the sales manager assumed zero responsibility.

I recently read an incredible book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin; this experience got me thinking about leadership and the principles outlined in the book that an adept leader embodies.

A team is only as good as the person leading them. Poor leadership will achieve poor results and superlative leadership results in a winning team. A leader motivates their team, coaches their team, and makes them the best that they can be. They see the talent in people and nurture that talent. A great leader has to have the respect of their team, and that means they do not lead from an office behind a desk, but out in the trenches battling with their team. A leader accepts full responsibility for the team’s failures and passes all accolades for their successes to the members of their team.

For any organization to be successful, they have to look at the leaders that they have in place and figure out whether they have managers or leaders. Managers do simply that, they manage what is happening. Leaders, lead their team to both personal and professional triumph. Managers don’t get anything done, they don’t create anything exceptional, and they have no part in their team’s success. Leaders create a winning atmosphere guiding their team to a Hollywood ending.

In your career, your marriage, your parenting, and life, in general, don’t be a manager, be a leader. Take responsibility for everything in your life and for all the people you influence and are responsible for, and you will create a winning life for not only yourself but all the people around you and who depend on you.

Success is your obligation, GO GET IT!

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