Last week I began my look at the essential leadership skills required to move from sales person to sales leader, starting with Setting the Standard.
The second of our 5 Core Disciplines of Leadership is ‘Communicating with Impact’. How effectively we communicate is critical in any role but, for a Sales Leader, your communication must not only inform and build strong relationships but must also inspire others to action and drive bottom-line results.
For those moving into a leadership role, suddenly your actions and behaviours have greater significance and consequence. No longer are you responsible for just your own success, now others rely on you to help lead them to success too. In order to convince those others to come on the journey with you, you must be able to communicate with them in a way that builds trust, provides clarity and inspires them to achieve. But communication is not a ‘one size fits all’ skill. In fact, the secret to becoming a great communicator is actually being able to flex your approach to best suit both the situation/message and also the audience.
Organisations are increasingly realising that great leadership is not simply about getting results, regardless of the casualties left in the wake. Instead today’s leaders must be attuned to their people, be able to communicate effectively on every level within an organisation and understand the balance between listening and speaking. Critical to achieving this adaptability is Emotional Intelligence (EI).
As the research supporting the link between high EI and high performance continues to grow, so too does organisational adoption, with many organisations now incorporating EI tests into their recruitment and onboarding programmes.
In a previous post, I explored 3 of the reasons that EI makes sales people more effective, but for sales leaders, having high EI has even greater impact and reach.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
- Knowledge and Management of Self
Self-awareness is your ability to recognise and understand your emotions as they happen and how they influence your behaviours. Self-management is the ability to positively adjust your behaviours, regardless of your emotions.
With sales leadership comes increased responsibility and that inevitably brings with it occasions when emotions are running high. Letting those emotions dictate your communications is unlikely to sit in line with your leadership values, discussed in my previous post. And it’s not just ‘high-pressure’ situations where our emotions define our behaviour. We all have different tendencies and behaviour traits. EI tests are an extremely useful way of raising self-awareness, as they identify these tendencies and biases. If you want to convey a consistent leadership style and heighten your credibility, you’ll need to get your emotions in check.
Self-awareness doesn’t stop at self-reflection. Aspiring and new sales leaders should seek feedback on how they’re perceived by others. Whilst we might have heightened awareness of how we typically respond in a certain situation, our understanding of how that behaviour is perceived by others may be way off.
- Knowledge of Others
Sometimes referred to as Social Awareness, this is the ability to identify and interpret emotions, moods and motives in others. EI directly impacts your ability to communicate effectively – to handle difficult conversations, to manage stressful situations, to coach your team, to assert yourself, to hold others to account, to empathise, to make decisions – all skills essential to any leader.
A leader who undertakes EI training with their team, will not only improve their own ability to interpret their teams’ emotions, but will also give the team an opportunity to tune in to one another’s tendencies and preferences. For sales people, EI training has the additional benefit of helping to improve existing customer relationships and become better at building new ones, as they learn to identify and adapt to their customers’ preferred styles.
- Collaborating Effectively
Once you have the knowledge in place, you can use it to inform your communication style and methods. Sales Leaders must build and maintain strong working relationships with people at every level within an organisation, having a high level of EI allows you to skilfully navigate the emotional landscape. Being able to communicate effectively on every level like this will very quickly build your reputation as a credible, level-headed and successful leader.
Next week I’ll take a look at the third of our 5 Core Disciplines of Leadership; Executing with Excellence. Read the next post.
If you’d like to understand more about our Emotional Intelligence workshops and training, please email us or give us a call on 01778 382733.