I was listening to a conversation in the bar the other night between two sales managers discussing their different opinions as to how you should best manage a direct sales team when one of them piped up quite loudly, “Man management skills are something you either have or you don't". "You can’t be taught how to manage people you’re either a good man manager or you’re not”.
I wanted to join in at this point but my wife gently reminded me that it was Friday and I had finished work for the weekend and was supposed to be relaxing with a cold beer and dedicating my time to the conversation my twin daughters were trying to have with me about what they had done in school that day!
It did start me thinking though about some of the managers I’ve worked for in the past and I have to admit that some people are just naturally born leaders
I’ll always remember a long time ago now when I was a new sales rep selling Timeshare on the cold line. I’d worked under a couple of different sales managers and seen a few changes in the management line up in a very short time and they all seemed to be the same old stereotype Timeshare Sales Managers that were around in the old days so I didn’t take a lot of notice when we were told that we had yet another new sales manager taking over on Monday and he was really going to make some changes to this sales deck.
What a surprise this one turned out to be.
He didn’t come into the meeting shouting and banging his fists on the table threatening us with the old “If you don’t get a deal today you’ll all be out of a job!” He was quite laid back, very gentle and almost human for a sales manager but still carried an air of authority about him and silently commanded respect without ever asking for it. He was one of the most motivational men I had ever met and we would almost run into the morning meetings just in case he had got there before us and we’d missed something he had to say.
Even more important was that he was very approachable and always seemed to have time to sit with you and listen to your problems and give advice on where you could be going wrong in your presentation.
It was quite a few months before I started to realise that in all the times I’d gone to him and asked advice or discussed a problem I was having, he never once gave me the answers.
He would sit and listen to my problem and then ask me what I thought my options were. Once I’d given him all the options I thought I had for solving the problems, he would then ask me what I believed would be the outcome of each option if I put them into action. Once I’d told him that he would ask me which of the outcomes I thought would best resolve my problem. He would finish by saying that as long as I know what the problem is. And I know what action would best solve the problem. I just needed to take the appropriate action to create the desired outcome and I wouldn’t have the problem any more.
No wonder he was such a relaxed manager. He taught all his staff to managed themselves and find their own solutions to their problems and so slowly there where less people going to him every day and that freed up his time up to concentrate on what his job was really about. The day to day running of what became a very successful sales operation.