Leadership guru John Maxwell once said that “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
Have you recently sat back and thought about whether your leadership is worth catching? Are your leadership skills the type of influence you want to project onto your team?
In the world of insurance sales, your team will hit highs and lows—just like every other industry. But it’s your leadership that determines whether or not your team weathers the storm.
Entrepreneur Magazine has compiled the 10 tips from successful leaders that can help you become a leadership great:
- Build a dedicated team: Having a dedicated team is integral to success. The key is in how to hire effectively, says leadership trainer Harvey Mackay, who wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. “A colossal business idea simply isn’t enough. You have to be able to identify, attract and retain talent who can turn your concept into a register-ringing success,” he says. You need to hire employees whose values are aligned with your companies’ values, mission and purpose; in order to create a bond that can survive the ups and downs.
- Overcommunicate: Talk with your staff! Find out what’s going on with everyone and open that doorway to open communication within your company. Suzanne Bates, a Wellesley, Mass.-based leadership consultant and author of Speak Like a CEO, compiles a weekly news update she calls a Friday Forecast, and emails it to her staff. “My team is always surprised at all the good news I send out each week,” Bates says. “It makes everyone feel like you really have a lot of momentum, even in difficult times.”
- Don’t assume: Don’t assume that everyone in on your team understands your goals and mission. Even if they do, it helps to remind them of where the company is going and what the future holds for them. “Entrepreneurs have the vision, the energy, and they’re out there trying to make it happen. But, so often with their staff, they are assuming too much,” says Beverly Flaxington, founder of The Collaborative, a business-advising company in Medfield, Mass. “It’s almost like they think their enthusiasm by extension will be infectious — but it’s not. You have to bring people into your world and communicate really proactively.”
- Be authentic: Be yourself; instill your own personal values and principles into your company. “If you be yourself, and not try to act like someone else, and surround yourself with people who are aligned with your values, your business is more likely to succeed,” Flaxington says.
- Know your obstacles: “You need to know what you’re up against and be able to plan around those things,” Flaxington says. “It’s folly to think that just because you’ve got this energy and enthusiasm that you’re going to be able to conquer all. It’s much smarter to take a step back and figure out what your obstacles are, so the plan that you’re putting into place takes that into account.”
- Create a ‘team charter’: Creating clear goals and direction is an important factor in your company succeeding. “It’s important to create a set of agreements that clearly states what the team is to accomplish, why it is important and how the team will work together to achieve the desired results,” says Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager . “The charter provides a record of common agreements and can be modified as the business grows and the team’s needs change.”
- Believe in your people: Especially in rough economic times, it’s important that your team has confidence in themselves to keep on going. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Leaders are dealers in hope.” That confidence comes in part from believing in your team, says leadership coach John Maxwell. “I think of my people as 10s, I treat them like 10s, and as a result, they try to perform like 10s,” he says. “But believing in people alone isn’t enough. You have to help them win.”
- Give out credit: The sound of your name being spoken by someone else in praise is one of the sweetest sounds to a salesperson. “Many entrepreneurs are too in love with their own ideas and don’t know how to distribute credit,” Mackay says. “A good quarterback always gives props to his offensive line.”
- Keep your team engaged: Great leaders give their teams challenges and get them excited about them, says leadership expert Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Free Press, 1989).
- Keep Calm: An entrepreneur has to backstop the team from overreacting to short-term situations, says Mackay. This is particularly important now, when news of the sour economic environment is everywhere.