Sales Teams Who Rely On The Manager Getting It Right, All The Time

The tyranny that many sales directors face is one they struggle to articulate until you point it out, and then they have a lightbulb moment and say “absolutely!”. They go further and say if I could solve this problem I would transform the potential of this team.

What is this debilitating disease that can sap the energy of even the best sales leaders? Simply put, it’s a team that is only interested in what their manager is interested in. They might be the most responsive, competitive team but their issues are your issues, their agenda is your agenda.


A common manifestation of this problem would go as follows. A concern starts to form in the back of your mind about a part of the business that currently looks OK. You do nothing for a while, mulling it over but it won’t go away so do decide to do some proper analysis. This reveals a potentially serious issue unless addressed quickly. You bring it to the attention of your team, but respond with real concern and get on with solving it ASAP.

A first look this looks a good resolution except on reflection you realise that without your prescience this problem would probably spiralled in to a major crisis causing real damage to the business. That takes you to an even bigger worry. What other problems are over the horizon waiting to blind the company as you move forward? And that’s just problems, what about the nascent opportunities?

A sales leader in this position ends up doing the thinking for their team and the team ends up being dependent on their leader.

Think of how it could be. You are managing the business and one of your team brings something to you. They have had a worry for some time, done some thinking about, done the analysis, worked out the best solution and actioned a recovery plan. They are telling you on an FYI basis only. This is a team that thinks pro-actively for its self. In this environment the responsibility for change and development is shared rather than being a top down process.


How do you create this kind of team dynamic? Firstly by getting everybody to recognise there is a problem. Some people get into a position where they believe that senior (to them) people do the thinking for change, it’s their job to simply carry it out. So if there are no changes or issues coming down the pipe, there’s nothing additional to worry about. Part of anybody’s job is about being pro-active in their role, don’t let them off the hook by doing this critical part of their job for them.

The Business Imperative For Being A Demanding, Performance Orientated Organisation (One more time!)

  • It stimulates a success orientated culture that constantly reinforces itself

= higher standards and a self-motivating desire for ‘stretch’ performance

  • It aligns the individual’s performance to organisational goals

= greater energy around objectives and targets

  • It gives purpose to the on-going  building of individuals’ strengths and potential

= increases peoples self-esteem


  • The clarity around the interdependency of personal and organisational success/failure, stimulates deeper engagement between the individual and the organisation

= improves morale and ‘emotional stakeholding’ in the business

  • It creates awareness of the progress that everyone is making (or not) towards objectives

= performance ‘counts’ because there are positive and negative consequences, for everybody

  • It aligns and reinforces the individuals expectations with the organisations expectations

= higher ownership stimulates thinking around personal ‘stretch’ performance

  • It identifies performance (positive and negative) issues early, so allowing for the generation of possible solutions to optimise performance

= because when performance really matters, people get passionate about their own (and others) performance

  • It can provide effective data for feeding into other people related issues, such as; resource planning, new role design, training, management development and succession planning

= significantly improves organisational capabilities, and shows the organisation is serious about supporting peoples’ career development