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Three Things I Learnt Becoming a New Sales Leader

I never had a goal to get into management role.

It was a good combination of time, personal development and opportunity that all came together earlier this summer and I took over the Area Sales Manager Role. I strongly believed and still do that I can inspire other people to do better things and become better themselves. I believe I can help them to achieve what they want and become what they want to become. This is why I took this role. It’s not about me, it’s about them. And I love it.

Although I had certain expectations from the role, I heard stories from the colleagues, some things came totally unexpected..

You give 100% of yourself, your time, your attention, your thoughts and actions to your people. You do not belong to yourself anymore, you belong to your team. Their needs are your needs, their pain is your pain, their issues are your issues. Exploring each personality, finding their strengths and interests, creating this very special bond that helps to move mountains – this is the very part I absolutely love. I am still at the very beginning of the journey but I truly believe that if you care for the people you work with, magic happens.

Have you every heard those TV horrible stories when after a bad snowstorm a supermarket roof falls not being able to keep up with all the snow pressure? This is how I felt a couple of months ago. Let’s say when I started this role I faced a really “bad snowstorm”: emails from unhappy (and happy:-) customers asking for updates and shipments to be shipped yesterday, super-urgent RFQs to be addressed and communicated, open positions you need to fill, conference calls every 2 hours, company priorities that need to be addressed, low performance results, 100 different reports to look into and millions of other issues – I felt like “my roof” is about to collapse. I found there are two ways to deal with this:
– A. Focusing and remembering the true reason why you are doing what you are doing. I believe I can inspire people to become the best they want to become and achieve what they want to achieve. I want to see them successful, happy and performing on top of their capabilities. This is my drive. Every time I feel it’s too much, I take a moment to reflect on this. And then

– B. Having mentors, those people around you who have been through what you are going through now, people who have knowledge and experience, people who will listen and advise. Lucky me to have them around…

3. Focus.
This is vital. I grew up on a military base so if i could learn something from that time that would be the importance of focus. There will be constant “battles” in the companies, changes in processes or people hierarchy… This is a natural thing, companies are not stagnant (when they are they “die”). Companies are live organisms where things change. It’s natural and expected. The main challenge however is to keep being focused / keep your team focused on that one thing, that goal, that final destination you (and your team) know to get to in spite of anything. Have you ever tried to set your cell phone navigation with a few “stop points” in between? Every time you add a stop your total transit time adds on and on (although Waze has been my true companion for all the travel for the past 3 years). “Clearing” this “route” for your people so they can achieve what they need to achieve and not worry about “construction blocks” or “police reported ahead” alarms -that requires great focus.

I believe there is a Chinese saying: “A journey of million miles starts with the first step”.. As I stepped into the world of leadership and people responsibility, I know I chose the right path. In spite of many challenges and things I never expected I would face, it feels very organic and rewarding to see happy faces and smiling eyes. I must have done something right – “the snow’ on my ‘roof” all melted…

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