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If You’re Not There, Neither Are Your People

I spoke to five different sales organizations in January this year. Three of these sales organizations were engaged in a sales transformation. I want to describe the difference between one of those organizations and the two others.

Leaders Engaged

In the first two organizations, the sales leader (at the SVP level) was engaged in the process of selecting me. Those sales leaders scheduled calls to meet with me before I spoke. They were very careful to share with me their intended outcomes. They knew exactly what they needed in the way of a mindset shift and new skill sets.

During later meetings, I was asked to review my slide deck with these leaders. They asked to be walked through the content so they would have a greater subject matter expertise than anyone on their team. They believed they were responsible for leading.

The leaders from these two organizations were visible, engaged, and active during my keynote and workshops. They asked questions. They volunteered answers. In one case, the CEO volunteered to coach the material in front of the people he expected to use it. That made an impact.

Hidden In Plain Sight

Now let’s look at the third organization. The senior sales leadership team wasn’t engaged in selecting me to speak. Even though I asked for a meeting, I was unable to obtain one because the leader was too busy.

As we moved closer to the date of the event, the sales leader wasn’t engaged in the process of sharing their outcomes with me, and they didn’t see anything I was going to present. They trusted me to deliver, and I didn’t let them down. They were very pleased. But I don’t believe the outcome will be the same as the other two sales organizations.

Because the leader was too busy to be engaged, the people that reported to him followed suit. They were too busy to meet, to share with me, or to allow me to share and collaborate with them.

When I spoke, the leaders had meetings elsewhere. It was very visible that the leader wasn’t visible. I watched his salespeople watch him and some of his team leave. They were nowhere near the workshop.

What I Fear

I know this leader and his team were working hard. They’re great people. But I worry.

I worry that by being invisible during the process that they send the unintended message to their team that what we were doing together wasn’t important.

I worry that by not being engaged in the material that they won’t know enough to really help lead the transformation. When the questions and challenges arise, the leader won’t know how to guide the team through the rough spots.

I worry that by visibly leaving the workshop that they signaled that the transformation isn’t all that important. I fear that he and his team were setting the stage for their people to wait them out.

As a leader, if you aren’t there (physically, mentally, and emotionally), your people won’t be there either.

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