Cisco Blogs

How Good Are YOUR Leadership Skills?

- March 31, 2016 - 6 Comments

Contributors: Karin Surber

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? 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…


In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. I agree to all and I would add Trust. I think it's different than integrity. To me Integrity is I do what I say and I say what I do. Trust is earned. It's what you have when people know you have their back. It's what you have when people know you as a leader is pushing them because you know they can succeed, not fail.

  2. the first three mean nothing, if number four isn't primary.

    A Vitamin E Complex. Good post. Salespeople are optimistic - we are like the accelerator pedal in automobiles (vs. the brake). Your first paragraph captures it well: envision, empathize, energize and emote - call it: Vitamin E for salespeople. And really focus on the EQ parts. After all, successful salespeople have solid engineering (logical quotient) support or consulting engineers. Sell with all the assets in one's portfolio.

    • Thanks Jonathan! I really like that - Vitamin E for Sales People. We do have to be the energizer bunnies through the selling motion and the EQ elements are what differentiate the good from the great.

    Sad that the folks wanting to be the next President of the United States, lack many or all of the Leadership Qualities you describe.

    • Steven - unfortunately, I have to agree with you. But like I said, doing the right thing isn't always easy and sometimes personal motivations drive people to do things they later regret. Fame and Power are two personal motivations that often drive our political process.