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Leading From Behind A Desk

by David Brock on May 6th, 2014

There are too many managers who “lead” from behind a desk.  Here’s how to recognize one:

  1. They haven’t visited a customer in the past 30 days.
  2. They haven’t talked to a customer on the phone in the past week.
  3. Their interest in customers is the transaction/deal, not the value created for the customer.
  4. Their sales people are afraid to have them visit customers because they don’t create value.
  5. Their primary source of information on “what’s happening,” comes from CRM, or reports.
  6. They overload their people with paperwork and administration.
  7. The majority of their time is spent in internal meetings with their peers, manager, and others.
  8. They focus on the numbers and not how the numbers are generated/the structure of their business.  (Read my post, Proving Math Works)
  9. If they don’t understand the numbers.
  10. If they focus on the wrong numbers, e.g. trailing indicators, and not the numbers that have the greatest impact on performance.
  11. If they focus only on the bottom of the funnel and not on the whole funnel or prospecting.
  12. If they can’t help people figure out how to close performance gaps.
  13. Meetings with their team focus on telling them what they should be doing (e.g. make the numbers) or seeking information about what they are doing and how they are spending their time  – no coaching, problem solving, learning.
  14. They don’t view their role as getting things done through people.
  15. They aren’t spending the majority of their time with their team, coaching and developing them to achieve the highest levels of performance.
  16. They can’t/won’t help their team learn something new or develop their skills.
  17. If they aren’t collaborative.
  18. Their sales teams don’t see them as adding value in developing deal strategies and helping them win.
  19. If their only contribution is in “closing calls.”
  20. If they don’t conduct win/loss reviews, seeking to understand how to improve and win more.
  21. They blame their team for performance issues.
  22. They don’t set the example of the expected behaviors.  Otherwise stated, they live by the motto, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
  23. They insist on “CRM compliance” (or replace with your favorite system), but don’t use it themselves.
  24. If they spend more time promoting themselves in the organization than promoting the team.
  25. If they take credit for what the team has accomplished rather than praising the team.
  26. They don’t defend the team and fight for it within the organization.
  27. If they aren’t fighting to get the resources, tools, systems to help their team be more effective.
  28. They focus more on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right.
  29. They don’t have high expectations for themselves or their team’s performance.
  30. If they don’t hold themselves or others accountable.
  31. If they don’t address performance problems immediately, but ignore them, or let the fester until they poison the organization.
  32. If they don’t provide fair, direct feedback.
  33. If they aren’t willing to take fair, direct feedback.
  34. If they don’t actively listen.
  35. If they don’t seek to understand and drill down to root causes.
  36. If they aren’t collaborative or don’t stimulate collaboration.
  37. If they aren’t willing to change their point of view, or admit they may be wrong.
  38. If they have no empathy for the challenges their people face.
  39. If they aren’t continually learning and improving.
  40. If they don’t establish a climate of continual learning and improvement.
  41. If they aren’t always looking to simplify and improve.
  42. If they don’t use the sales process and expect their sales people to use the sales process.
  43. The only time you hear from them is the last week of the month/quarter, otherwise they are pretty invisible.
  44. If most of their network is people within the company (or their past companies) and not with customers.
  45. If they don’t pay attention to hiring and get the wrong people on board.
  46. If they take themselves and their role too seriously.
  47. If they aren’t willing to laugh at themselves every once in a while.

These people aren’t leaders, they are administrators.

Score yourself, if you do one or more, you are in danger of being irrelevant to your people.

People are crying for leadership.  Make sure you are a leading!

 Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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  1. Doug Schmdit permalink

    Dave, thank you again for the excellent post on leadership or lack of sales leadership in company’s today. Who are the leaders we admire, learn from and can model appropriate behavior? Why should we as sales and marketing professionals not have clear leadership principles and values?
    One of the best examples of leading from the front are the veterans who serve our country. Our veterans encourage leadership on an everyday basis and don’t make a mystery out of leadership. For example, the following are US Marine Leadership Principles –
    No mystery here, is there?
    Would love comments and feedback.

    • The Marine reference is a great summary of leadership principles. Thanks for sharing it with us Doug.


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