How Not To Lead?

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I learned how not to lead last week, as I was sitting in Starbucks drinking my Venti Soy Latte with a nice tall ice water to quench my thirst after an hour and a half of basketball.  I was dehydrated and delighted to get moving on my day.

As I was waiting on my networking meeting, I noticed a group of sales professionals sitting at a table.  There were about 6 of them sharing friendly banter about font sizes, their computers and their Thanksgiving dinner.

Then the apparent leader of the group, “the boss,” stepped into the Starbucks and suddenly they became silent.  A great sign that the team is getting ready to sabotage the leader and that the team is failing.

There were many “red flags” or “points of concern” with the entire meeting, which I was able to overhear because I was five feet away that it inspired me to write this post and hopefully get you to smile.

Here are the main points of how not to lead a meeting:

1. Please do NOT have a sales, strategy or operational meeting at a Starbucks.  The coffee is great, but the environment is distracting and people really do not want to hear your meeting.  Although, I was entertained by the discussion.

2. Leader, you were throwing around spreadsheets thinking that was going to inspire your team.  I know that you are 20% down in sales.  Emphasizing that worked against you. Your team ought to know where they stand on their goal.  Did you notice how defensive three of your team members became once the numbers were shared?  Data is an automatic anxiety trigger.

3. Leader, leaving the meeting saying “Go sell something.” Is not helpful…Try again…Your team consists of people who want to be successful.    This imperative statement is actually belittling to your team.  You are better than that leader!

Instead try these ideas:

1. Explore: Ask questions of your team to see what might be causing the slow in sales or the difficulty.  Leader you have something to own here.  You should start the discussion sharing what you are doing to contribute to the problem and how you plan to rectify the issue moving forward.

2. Express the purpose of your team and have your team capture an understanding of what they are selling or trying to accomplish.  If the revenue is your ONLY metric, it could backfire on you.  Remember, Dan Pink would tell us that individuals are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose.

3. Energize: A couple of ideas here:  First, the meeting can be energized if you create a short term goal or team theme to get your team moving.  Check back in a week or two and share the results.  For this team, it could be a countdown to 100 sales.  Second, make sure you have a deep understanding of what makes each of your team members tick. Remember that the financial rewards are  not the only thing getting your team to move.

That is my rant for the week.  Enjoy!