When I first became a sales manager, the book that gave me the support, tools and inspiration I needed was Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. The 7 great principles he taught enabled me to have confidence, manage my time, and achieve a lot which led to me gaining promotion or a new job every year of my career.
Sadly Stephen Covey passed away this week but his books and ideas will live on for generations to come. His ideas influenced a lot of my book “Superhero Sales Manager” with multiple responsibilities, tasks and goals to answer to.
As a personal tribute to Stephen Covey I will apply his 7 habits to today’s Sales Manager, starting with his first one: Be proactive. To Covey being proactive means more than just taking initiative, although that is a strength in itself. To him it means that we take responsibility for our own lives. We no longer blame our circumstances or other people but we choose our response (response-ability) consciously based on our own values above our feelings. It’s being a grown up.
Reactive people are affected by the weather, by someone else’s moods, by the reaction of one phone call. Proactive people carry their own weather. They are value driven so if their value is to produce good quality work, it’s not relevant whether the weather is conducive or not, they’ll do it anyway.
It is a source of personal power that others can’t take away, to choose your response to any given situation and make it a positive proactive one. As a Sales Manager years ago, this gave me a lot of confidence to take decisions. I didn’t worry what others would think or wait and see what decisions others would make. I would look at a situation, whether it was poorly performing staff member, recruiting a new team member or distribution partner, decision whether to exhibit or not and base that decision on what was right for the business with the information I had. This meant I could make quick decisions. And as they were based on values, not emotions they were decisions I couldlive with and make work no matter what the consequences.
Today’s business is full of the fear of taking risks, of doing the wrong thing because the focus is often on revenue and profit rather than Values and taking responsibility for making proactive decisions based on those values.
When I work with my clients at all Executive levels one of our first sessions together is exploring, clarifying and highlighting their values as they are sometimes buried beneath years of following orders, being seen to do the right thing.
Next week: 2. Begin with the end in mind