My 9 year old son plays on a football team. During one of his football games, I saw the sheer desire, the absolute will to win that his coach had. I also noted that that same will to win had not found its way to my son, nor the rest of the team that fateful Saturday morning. Needless to say, they lost.
I've managed and led teams of salespeople over the years in different industries. I’ve also led teams of various sizes during my 11 years in the Army. Each of these teams has been successful. My son’s football team won the league championship last year and, under the same excellent coach I mentioned above, has compiled a 2-1 record so far this season. My sales teams have consistently led in market share attainment and new-product launches in one industry, and have been a company leader in attainment of plan in the other industry. My military teams have also led in the categories that count. Turnover in all my teams has also historically been very low. All of these are markers of success.
I would propose to you that there is a commonality in all of these that is a trait of being successful. That commonality is a shared vision of success. Some may argue that this is a bit too simplistic – that it is much more than that. Allow me to disagree and tell you that everything else a team does and doesn’t do to be successful starts with this shared vision. It is this vision that inspires. It is this vision that motivates. It is this vision that permits each individual team member to do whatever it takes (and more). It is this vision, then, that become the rallying cry for the team when it is faced with challenges. It is this vision that buttresses the team to success in overcoming these challenges.
It is up to the leader to concoct and then communicate this vision. Once that is done, his/her main job, then, is to inspire, train, educate, coach, and motivate the team so this vision is inculcated, internalized, then implemented by each member. I hear the question frequently, what is leadership? I would submit to you that if the ability to do this well isn’t leadership, it is definitely a discriminator for effective leadership.
So, how do you concoct, then communicate this vision of success? How do you go about the leader’s everyday job of training, motivating, educating, and inspiring? How does a leader get his/her team to internalize then implement this vision? I’ll address that in the next edition.
After all, that’s the point!