Great leaders inspire us. They create exciting new visions. They push us to do things we might not have tried before. During times of crisis, they think and act creatively to solve problems. Leaders aren’t just needed in business but in all areas of life: family, friends, neighborhood, social circles etc.  Sometimes a leader is inherited and comes along with a situation. Sometimes a new leader steps up to manage a situation. But sometimes WE have to step-up and be the leader. Are YOU ready?

Selling requires leadership. As sales people, we have to inspire our customers to imagine the solution we are recommending. We have to be able to paint a vision of the changes that will occur should they acquire that solution. And in the event of problems, we must quickly solve the issue and calm the situation. We cannot sell without being a leader throughout the process.

So exactly how good are YOUR leadership skills?  Do you have what it takes to not only close the deal but to step-up in other areas of your life? Mindtools.com has a quick quiz you can take to get a handle on your leadership skills. The free quiz will assess your emotional intelligence, your transformational leadership skills, your positive outlook and much more.

Regardless of your score on the quiz, you DO have what it takes to be the leader – you just have to commit to being one. Being a leader requires consistency around four (4) characteristics:

  1. Set a positive example: Leaders roll their sleeves up, along with everyone else to get the job done. They don’t sit back and bark orders for others to get the hard work completed. Instead, they chip-in, work alongside the team towards mutual goals and garner respect for being a team player. As a sales professional, make sure you are knee deep in the details. Your customers will appreciate the effort and your level of credibility will be improved markedly. You have to know your stuff.
  2. Admit when you make mistakes: Let’s face it. We are all human and mistakes are just part of that experience. Leaders must be willing to admit when they’ve had an error in judgement or made a wrong move. Admitting mistakes takes courage but also gives others permission to admit they made mistakes. This creates space for people to take more risks which are necessary to innovate and improve. And most importantly, mistakes are almost always uncovered eventually so best to get in front of it instead of covering for yourself later on.
  3. Make the tough decisions: Leaders have to be willing to make the tough calls even when they are unpopular because they are necessary for the long-term health of the team. In sales, there are times when you have to say “no” or deliver that bad news to the customer and team. Putting it off or avoiding only prolong the pain. So face the fear and be open about difficult decisions. As long as you are honest and have the best interests of the customer in mind, the situation is salvageable.
  4. Live with integrity: Great leaders have a strong sense of integrity. They know what they believe and are willing to stand-up for what is right regardless of the consequences. This is not always easy. But at the end of the day, we have to look in the mirror and like who we see. A leader who flip flops or is weak in this area will never garner the level of respect they desire. Such is true in sales and everywhere in our lives. Always do the right thing and keep your self-respect intact..

Leading isn’t always easy but it is necessary to step-up and lead when we are called upon to do so. Keep these four tips in mind and you will hone your leadership skills in all areas of your life. No matter how good your leadership skills are now, there is always room for growth. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned around leadership? Please share…


Karin Surber

Sr. Global Business Development Manager

Global Partner Strategy and Planning