All too often productive employees are promoted into management because their ego drive to be #1 has enabled them to excel in their role. And all too often, this is exactly the reason why they make poor managers.

What makes an effective leader is the exact opposite: An ego drive to help others be #1.

So how does a leader start to work on attaining this characteristic of getting their personal needs in perspective? Paradoxically, it starts by looking inward at themselves, to ensure that they have the characteristics of a good leader. In his recent post It's All About You???, Michael McKinney articulates this quite well: "Ironically, great leaders know that it's all about them because it isn't. Great leaders focus on developing themselves so they can develop others... It's about self-awareness. A self-aware leader is in a better position to lead others with authenticity and benevolent concern."

Think of the safety announcement they make before flying, specifically the part about cabin pressure loss: "Make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children." Before you can help anyone else, you must be able to help yourself.

Posted: 26/10/2010 7:06:35 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
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The other week, Mary Jo Asmus wrote in Feedback: The Whole Truth (Almost) "unless certain conditions are right, they (staff, peers and managers), will NOT hear the whole truth" when asking for feedback. There can be a number of reasons for this, however it's up to you as a leader to create an environment in which people will feel more at ease and willing to communicate openly.

An important characteristic of a good leader is the ability to communicate, which is really what Mary's post is about. People often think of communication as being understood (ie, talking), but in reality true communication is built on understanding the other person and there are a lot of subtleties to perfecting it. It's also about empathy. It's about listening. It's about catching non-verbal cues. It's even about controlling your setting or environment.

How can the setting impact feedback? During one of Angelo's recent workshops with a sales manager and his team, someone asked a relatively new person what they thought of the manager. Caught off guard, the new guy didn't know what to say. And despite encouragement from the manager to be honest, he refused, even though it was clear that he didn't have anything negative to say. The problem was that the environment wasn't right and he felt uncomfortable offering personal feedback with a room full of other people staring at him.

When communicating, be sure to consider the larger picture and how a variety of factors may help shape the discussion. When you start to take this broader view, you'll find that you're having more open and honest interaction with your people.

Posted: 19/10/2010 7:11:52 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
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When a salesperson is performing poorly and not hitting sales targets, too often a sales manager will assume the fault lies with the employee. While this assumption may often be right, frequently the root of the problem lies elsewhere. It's essential therefore that sales managers identify the cause of the performance problem before confronting an employee.

As part of this first step of managing poor performance, sales managers should determine if there is any task interference.

Simply put, task interference is any obstacle that prevents the salesperson from doing their job. It's important to recognise that task interference comes in many forms.

Task interference can occur when salespeople aren't provided with the necessary tools, resources and information to do their job. To be effective in creating and selling value rather than merely selling product features, salespeople need good information on the products they're selling, and the right access channels to that information.

Another form of task interference, which may sound counterintuitive at first, is when salespeople are denied sales training. A classic perspective from sales management can be that by removing training, their people will have more time in the field. But of course this is only the shortest of short-term solutions. Sure, you've just bought your salespeople an extra day or two in the field. But by not giving them the chance to constantly learn and reinforce the skills and thinking that makes them proficient, they'll progressively become less effective and overall sales performance declines.

There are many more ways your salespeople can experience task interference. So whenever you are observing poor performance against sales quota, it's crucial to evaluate whether task interference maybe a cause.

Posted: 12/10/2010 9:09:42 PM by Andy Klein | with 1 comments
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We have a great variety of articles for you in this edition of the roundup, a few of which also touch on themes we've been discussing recently. And to mix things up, the last "article" is a cartoon. Happy reading.

Want Engagement? Allow The 'How'
By Steve Roesler of All Things Workplace
As managers, we often feel the need to tell our people 'what' to do, but Steve offers a concise and articulate argument for why we should allow our people to determine 'how' they're going to make it happen, with a key benefit being an increase in employee engagement. He says, "We hire people because we believe they offer a unique talent. That uniqueness lies in 'how' they go about doing things... Give people opportunities to choose and control. You'll become the master of engagement."

Let Your Questions Be Their Guide
By Art Petty of Management Excellence
One of the characteristics of a good leader is emotional maturity, and part of this means that you must have the confidence and knowledge to surround yourself with people who may know more than you. To help tap into this knowledge and convert it to action, Art suggests that leaders use questions to their advantage. He offers five benefits of asking questions and 11 questions that can help you get your team's creative juices flowing.

Impressing Your Employee's Better Half
By Mike Michalowicz of the Wall Street Journal
Last month we wrote about various ways to motivate employees and recommended that belief building is the most effective means of accomplishing this. A tactic that Mike recommends for increasing this emotional investment in the company is to win support of the employee's family: "The men and women your employees go home to at night have the power to motivate a small-business team far better and faster than you could." It's an interesting thought, and Mike offers a bevy of tips on how to cultivate this support by winning over employees (and their spouses) on Day One.

People are less impressed than you think
By Stuart of 1.00 FTE

Hope you enjoyed this edition of the Fortune Roundup, feel free to provide your thoughts on any of these articles in the comments section.

Posted: 11/10/2010 10:12:09 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
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Sales Performance International recently released the first of a three-part series of white papers on the future of sales training, this one titled Why Sales Training Often Fails. It's a very interesting and insightful look into how organisations can often invest so much time and money in improving the sales effectiveness of their sales teams without achieving sustainable results. To quote: "It appears that sales training does work, but results taper off quickly, and in many cases return to pre-training levels." In fact, the paper cites that on average, 84% of the content is lost a mere 90 days after training!

How can businesses improve salespeople's retention of training content, so that they can positively and permanently change their behaviour? The paper identifies five barriers that generally touch on one of three essential issues: ensuring that management is committed to the process, running the training on an ongoing basis and customising the training to the unique requirements of the organisation.

When you are considering sales training for your business, keep these barriers in mind and be sure you select a provider, such as The Fortune Group, whose model addresses each of them.

Posted: 5/10/2010 9:12:46 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
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