I have to admit being appalled reading an article entitled, 5 Skills To Turn Sales Managers Into Sales Leaders (I won’t link to it, you would waste your time, but if you want to find it, google it). The article identified these 5 critical skills:

  1. Setting Goals.
  2. Developing A Strategy.
  3. Setting Expectations.
  4. Understanding Drivers and Drainers.
  5. Evaluating ROI.

There virtually no discussion of people in the entire article! There is no discussion of the real challenges of leadership in today’s complex world.

When the key responsibility of a leader is to get things done through people, how can you write an article that makes no mention of coaching and developing your people to perform at the highest levels possible? How can you write without mentioning the importance of getting the right people with the right skills, attitudes, behaviors, and passions on board and executing?

In fairness to the author, he’s not the only one. Unfortunately, it seems too many people in “leadership” positions have forgotten that the only way they achieve their business goals is through their people.

Developing goals, developing strategies, all that stuff is meaningless unless you have the right team driven to execution. Leadership is about people. It’s about establishing a culture, values, attracting, developing, retaining the right people to execute.

Even the idea of the sales manager sitting behind a desk, analyzing data, setting goals, developing strategies, is a strategy for failure in today’s business world. The traditional “hierarchical” notions of managers developing strategies, passing them down through the ranks, telling people what do do, and monitoring performance through a “dashboard,” doesn’t work. The levels of complexity and the rates at which things change make that model a thing of the past.

Today’s great leaders do set direction and priorities, they do establish goals–some of them. But they focus on building teams of people capable of figuring things out, people capable of identify opportunities, problems, issues; capable of solving problems and executing.

Great leaders help their people get the resources, systems, tools, and training to enable them to execute. They establish cultures of engagement, constant learning and improvement, continued innovation.

Great leaders recognize it is less about them and what they do, and more about how they build teams that have the intelligence, passion, and capability to execute. They recognize the source of the great strategies, the ability to identify “drivers and drainers,” is in the people and teams themselves. Great leaders build an environment that enables people to work together, figuring these things out, sharing them with each other, iterating and improving.

The five skills the author identified for sales leadership. To be honest, they are skills each of our sales people need to have to perform in today’s world; consequently, we would expect anyone in a management or leadership role to have mastered these and to have moved on in their own development.

Leadership is so much more.