Transformational Leadership in a Changing World
Today’s business environment requires sales leaders to not shy away from change but rather to embrace it and to become champions of change. Turbulent change is all around us. It is caused by forces such as technology, the economy, globalization, innovation and more. These forces drive change and push sales managers to adjust, adapt and plan strategically. Sales Managers are constantly innovating to increase sales and to increase sales, improve profit and connect with people. Sales Managers and their teams continue to think creatively and plan to overcome challenges and create positive outcomes.
Motivating Sales People
Most models to motivate a sales person are designed to increase the sales person’s motivation. In theory, these models are an exchange process. They are designed to increase effort and improve performance. It is a transactional leadership approach and financial rewards, recognition, and a sense of accomplishment are linked to greater performance. Sales quotas are set that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound - the process begins. Sales meetings are also an important motivational tool as are meeting and talking with marketing personnel and top management.
Leadership Activities Influence Positive Outcomes
Leadership styles and choices do matter and make a difference. John Maxwell, leadership expert and bestselling author, says leadership is influence. He tells us that great leaders inspire their followers to have confidence in themselves. Reilly, Minnick and Baack in their book, The Five Functions of Management, tell us that in a business context, leadership consists of all the activities undertaken to help people achieve the highest level of performance. They point out that effective leaders influence behaviors in positive ways and that ineffective leaders also influence behaviors, but do not achieve desired results.
Conceptualize and Apply Transformational Leadership
In addition to the motivational models and leadership styles designed to motivate and lead salespeople, how can a sales manager further influence a sales person’s motivation? The answer is simple: practice and master transformational leadership.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style that compliments transactional leadership. Transformational leaders have a unique ability to reach their people by creating new visions, strategies and structure which help create needed results. By being a positive role model, transformational leaders talk the walk and walk the talk. They realize that their teams are watching more how they walk the talk versus how they talk it. They understand that the men and women reflect the tempo and tone of the leader.
Transformational leaders provide idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration. They model the way. They inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, and look for ways to improve, enable others to act. They encourage the heart.
Transformational leadership is a style that can be used in a changing and challenging business climate. When an organization is going through change, it is a style that adds value to employees, departments, and customers.
Be a Transformational Sales Manager
Simply by having an understanding of transformational leadership, conceptualizing the theory and applying it, sales managers can learn and practice transformational leadership. They can hone their skills with practice. Sales managers can still keep their measures and metrics used in their management process to monitor performance and trends, but now they can focus on the elements of transformational leadership to build people further. Sales managers can make an impact simply by understanding the importance of being a positive role model and source of inspiration to their teams. By caring and providing individualized consideration, sales managers can further connect with their people and teams and help move them forward.
Transformational leaders are self-aware and self- managed. They have excellent social, emotional and cultural intelligence. They provide encouragement when needed and are optimistic about the future. Being optimistic does not mean they are not objective; it simply means they prefer to take a positive outlook on present and future situations and events. They are resilient. They understand that our minds can be either a barrier or bridge to the future. Being resilient is a great trait for transformational leaders. Here is a great site to learn more about resiliency: http://www.resiliencycenter.com/articles/5levels.shtml
Sales managers, grow, serve and be a positive role model for your teams. Be a transformational leader. Work to understand the context and culture in every leadership situation and then execute and lead with transformational leadership. Watch your teams respond and move forward with increased motivation and effort. This will all lead to greater performance and job satisfaction. Transformational leadership reinforces their motivation.
Bill Davis, MA, CM
Faculty – Forbes School of Business at Ashford University
My articles cover topics on management, leadership, business, marketing, professional selling, organizational change, motivation, adult learning and development and personal and professional career success.