Here is an installment of Seth Godin’s blog that I found pertinent for Southwestern executives and student managers alike. Think about these seven questions he poses:
“Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
What do you do with people who disagree with you… do you call them names in order to shut them down?
Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity? [Bonus: Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don't match yours?]
Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?
How often are you able to change your position?
Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?
If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?
No textbook answers… It’s easy to get tripped up by these. In fact, most leaders I know do.”
So…how did you do? Most of Seth’s questions revolve around ego. Our ego is a big deal–our self-centeredness is readily apparent to other people. Sadly, many leaders who need to experience a healthy “ego check” are blissfully unaware of their shortcomings. They are happy to bend the truth a bit for a good story, or a good outcome–or a sale.
Another question for salespeople: Can you let the sale go if it’s not in the best interest of the customer? When I was selling, I sometimes let my competitiveness or my need to win (or my ego) get the best of me. I convinced myself everyone should have my product–even if they weren’t great prospects. So with that mindset, sale made, but did I help someone who probably wasn’t going to use what I was selling? No.
If you can put other people’s needs before yours, it will go well for you. At Southwestern, we call it a service-orientation: thinking of what you can do for them, not for yourself. Hopefully, you picked up on this theme during Sales School training. As Edwin Markham said, “There is a destiny among us that makes us brothers. No one goes his way alone. What we put into the lives of others, comes back into our own.” Think: am I primarily self-centered , or am I other-centered? If you’re not sure, ask a close friend you trust and who will be candid with you.
I confess my first few summers with Southwestern as a student manager, my focus was on myself. I did not get “service-mindedness.” Whether it was youthful immaturity or a heart set on self-gratification (or both), I don’t know. What I do know is true leadership, as Stephen Covey defines it, seeks first to understand, then to be understood. The focus is not on yourself, but on helping someone else. These seven questions might help you become aware of some poor leadership traits you’ve developed. Remember, awareness is half the battle in making positive changes in your life. I welcome your comments!