It’s not often though that we stop to look in the mirror. As a sales professional or sales leader, have you thought about what it means to lead yourself? That’s self leadership, and it’s the most important pillar in the leadership development process.
The first person to coin the term ‘self-leadership’ was Charles Manz. He defined it as “a comprehensive self-influence perspective that concerns leading oneself.” I like Peter Drucker’s more simplified explanation: being a self-leader is to serve as chief, captain, or CEO of one’s own life.
Even if you don’t have a leadership title within your sales organization, you are still a self-leader.
Self leadership describes how you lead your own life – setting your course, following it, and correcting as you go.
Life and business are often intertwined, so it also reflects how you work with clients, sales prospects, colleagues, and the leadership in your organization. Self-leadership is something that needs continual focus at the individual contributor and emerging leadership levels of your organization. One of the best ways to foster innovation and performance is through autonomy.
5 Core Qualities of Self-Leadership for Sales Professionals
What does it take to become a self leader? Below are five core qualities of self-leadership that any sales professional can hone:
1. Enthusiasm for learning. Almost all people I’ve met who are great self-leaders are learning enthusiasts. Those who are in sales keep up with modern selling trends—as well as trends in the verticals they sell into. They are well-read, and love to learn and share new information with their clients and sales prospects. I’ve also noticed that they usually surround themselves with others who are also learning enthusiasts.
2. Goals for life and business. Because many of us live in a combined world of the personal and professional, setting goals for business and life are critical. Those sales professionals who exercise self leadership take that a step further by monitoring those goals and correcting the course when needed. One idea I incorporate in my own life is to create a vision board. It allows me to dream big and visualize what I want my life to be. I also recommend a goal board. A goal board for a sales professional can be a white board of your yearly business development goals, broken down into quarterly or monthly goals. Then, as a sales manager or individual contributor, how are you communicating and monitoring goal progress – outside of formal performance evaluations?
3. Willingness to let go. Self leaders have learned where to direct their time and energy, and where to delegate. Are you saying “yes” to too many non-essential work (or life) activities? Are you continuing to do some tasks out of habit, even though they are not effective? Are there tasks that would be better handled by an admin or assistant? Letting go of ineffective and inefficient tasks allows you to better lead in your areas of strength. It also allows you to create collaborative relationships with your colleagues.
4. Plans and schedules. Self leaders create plans and schedules they also stick to them. One step is to map out your week, and then map out your day. What three things do you need to get done this week to reach your goals. What three things do you need to get done today? I recommend designating blocks of time for creative work and intensive work like prospecting, or a scheduled time to check email and return phone calls. It could also mean shutting down at a certain time each evening.
5. Focus and discipline. It’s a fact that our brains can only truly focus on one thing at a time to do a task well. This is even more critical when the task involves creative thinking or problem solving (rather than a rote task) for things like sales proposals and RFP responses or researching a new vertical. Sales professionals who are self-leaders have developed the skill of selecting what they want to focus on and tuning out the rest for a set amount of time. They do their best work and create better results.
For more tips on becoming your best leader, download my Leadership eBook for sales professionals. If you are looking for a leadership keynote or workshop for your next event or sales training, fill out my contact form, and let’s connect.
You can watch my video on how to Craft a Bold Vision below.