What is Sales Leadership?
“Leadership is the art of developing an organization that
is both socially viable and economically viable”, said Dr.
Tod Harris, Director of Research for PI in an
interview with SellingPower
Magazine. In my experience, few companies have been
able to sustain one without the other. If the company is not
socially viable, your top people leave and sales plummet. If
the company is not economically viable, the pressure on
performance quickly ruins the social climate and failure
I call leadership the art of getting people to do what needs
to be done while enjoying it. Given these definitions, it’s
easy to see why CEO’s today report leadership development as
their most critical issue. Unfortunately, surveys are
reporting bad news:
- 50% of leaders are viewed as lacking competence by the
people who work for them
- A small minority of companies feel they are able to
consistently identify, select and develop high caliber
The good news is that leadership characteristics are
predictable and measurable. Let’s use Dr. Harris’ three
characteristics of good sales leaders. He said a good leader
must have Passion, Principle and Performance.
a leader must be both innate and communicated. They must
have a desire to do the work and an ability to convey that
desire to others. Ideally, we want it to be infectious.
a leader must be both believed and practiced. The principled
leader is known for their unwavering ethics and intolerance
for cheating and fraud.
a leader must be both personal and organizational. The high
performance leader not only operates at a high level of
output, but builds systems for supporting, encouraging and
measuring the performance of the team.
Note that in each of these three areas, there is a behavior
component that addresses what the great leader does on a
regular basis. We know from over 50 years of studies, that
these behavior characteristics are both measurable and
predictable when using an effective behavioral assessment
The same solution can prevent the primary reasons for
failure in sales leaders. According to Dr. Harris, those
reasons are Over Promotion, Inability to Change and Lack of
Over Promotion often
means that the actions and skills required at the previous
job are significantly different from those in the new job. I
often say it this way: when you promote your best sales
person to be a manager, you lose your best sales person and
create your worst manager. The senior manager who made the
promotion may be completely unaware of the gap in skills and
behaviors, and unwittingly set up a disaster. Given the
right insight, this was preventable.
Inability to Change refers
to the leader’s willingness to adjust to the new work
environment and responsibilities. Some people have a more
difficult time dealing with change than others. Change is
also a behavior that is measurable and predictable with the
Lack of Cultural Alignment is
a little more complicated. It requires the promoting manger
to understand the culture of the company in a way that is
measurable, so a comparison can be made with the new leader.
People often ask me if their PI™ pattern is a good fit for a
particular job title. While there are typical styles that
tend to fit typical jobs, the company culture can
dramatically affect the ideal fit. Many high performers are
hired into situations in which they fail almost immediately
due to a cultural misalignment. This was predictable and
In the 50 plus years that Predictive
been assessing behavior, we know one unfortunate truth:
behavior characteristics are not observable. By that I mean
that no matter how well you know a person, you can not
accurately understand what drives them to do what they do
and how best to motivate them. Studies have shown that
leaders who use the insight gained through behavioral
assessments have a dramatically more accurate assessment of
their people and do a measurably more effective job of
identifying, selecting and developing their leaders.
As a consultant, I rely on the Predictive
help my clients consistently build stronger, more effective
teams. Each one has eventually come to the same realization:
thePredictive Index™ is
a necessary part of their decision making process.
If I can help you grow your sales or select and develop your
leadership team, please call me. You will be amazed at the
power this new source of information gives you in running