Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography
Business leaders spend an inordinate amount of time these days trying to understand how to protect an organization from its own demise. Is a better marketing strategy needed, new product development, adding to your sales force? Sometimes the answer is right in front of our face. The best way to strengthen an organization is investing in your greatest asset--your team.
Average leadership is cutting our legs underneath us every day in corporate America. Leadership has become just a watered-down word used only to describe a tier in the company that has reached a management status, tenure or possibly someone who was hired to come in and create change. Leadership has become a method to maintain the organization, not enhance it. The problem is that rarely is average leadership is considered a company threat. Instead, it may be something that is just bemoaned by company employees. In short, average leadership is the most dangerous of all because of the fact that it produces just enough productivity to meet the day-to-day standards, but enough to become truly a great organization.
The Unsettling Facts:
- 63% of the employees worldwide are not engaged in their jobs--this applies to managers too.
- Only 1 in 5 employees currently in management roles show a talent in managing others. Only 2 in 10 show an ‘average’ talent.
- Companies fail to choose the right talent for a job 82% of the time.
- A workforce requires, on average, a 10:1 manager-to-staff ratio. This means for a U.S. workforce of 100 million to be managed to the best of its ability, 10 million exceptional managers are needed. Currently, there are 3 million managers (27% of what is needed.)
- Most coaches think that they are high achieving and approximately 18% of all leaders truly are difference makers in the workplace.
The Root of Average: Leadership accountability most times leans on the issue of the leader missing the building blocks for exceptional leadership knowledge. These building blocks include:
Competence: There are 2 types of competence issues. The first is the issue of talent. The leader in question is not able to perform due to a lack of talent. The second is a leader who knows how to lead, but cannot recognize when to use coaching skills.
Philosophy: The average sales leader believes that high performance is critical to success in the organization; however, the knowledge gap occurs when the average sales leader starts to believe that high-productivity and high-people concern cannot be combined for higher performance. It may not even be that they don’t believe it; they just don’t believe that it is the performance pay-off is great enough to warrant spending time/energy coaching team members. The average sales coach operates by watering down behaviors from optimal to workable. In other words, they may believe in sales coaching as a theory, but not in real world practicality
Character: Another reason for average leadership is a lack of character. The leader knows exactly what they could and should do to advance the performance of the team, but is unwilling to put in the effort to make the results happen for their team.
Productivity: The last reason noted today for average leadership is philosophy. It’s the age-old question as to whether or not people and productivity really mix? We all would answer this question, “Yes” if asked, but if we look at people and productivity separately, most truly believe that in order to create high productivity, high people concern cannot be integrated effectively.
There are two likely ways that the average sales leader would reconcile the high productivity vs. high people concern issue.
- The first is the sales leaders attempts to keep people and productivity balanced. The sales manager believes that if a tough decision needs to be made on behalf of productivity, then in must be balanced with people-action. This is usually accomplished with disciplinary or punitive action.
- The second is that the average sales leader will attempt to watering down actions from optimal to workable. This manager believes that ‘optimal’ exists completely in theory and not in reality.
With a lack of leadership, there is no growth in capability that can advance a company to the next level. Once your team recognizes that there is a lack of growth, they become stagnant—there is nothing left for them to learn. The result is that eventually they will take their time and talents to another company where their skills will be put to better use. Eventually, the company becomes also stagnant and will basically stay the same over time.
What is the solution?
It’s not easy moving your sales team from average to excellent, but it is ultimately the only choice in order to advance an organization’s growth into the future. Invest in your sales leaders. Make sure they have been provided a coaching methodology to help them coach their sales team. The activities they perform with their sales teams, and the frequency of which they perform them, should all point toward driving performance. Coaching a team to a higher performance is a daily discipline.
Like anything worthwhile in the long run, it takes an every day commitment by sales leaders to coach their team to the highest performance possible. Sales leaders must learn how to lead and how to engage with their team. The must be able to recognize average performance and know how to coach to a higher performance, but most of all they need to be able to be unsettled and unsatisfied with status quo.