Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly

As a sales performance consultant, I get to know many up-and-coming Sales Professionals. Their energy and problem-solving skills are inspiring for me. And, I appreciate how they look forward to leading a team someday. However, the problem I see is they are so laser focused on what is next, they forget one key thing: their current job.

They are more focused on checking off their list of title progressions than excelling in their current role. I have seen Sales Professionals skip opportunities because they don’t think the title of the position fits their preconceived progression of positions to that holy grail of a Vice President of Sales.

So, what is the problem with this approach? While ambition is a great quality in a sales professional, these ambitious young professionals need to consider the following question:

“Would I want to work for me?”

Observe, Learn and Develop Your Leadership Style

One of the greatest challenges inexperienced leaders have is their ego. They expect everyone to operate and approach their job just like they do. When this doesn’t happen, they get frustrated because they are convinced that their way is the best way.

Some realize they need to adapt to their team or reshape their team’s approach, but they don’t know how. They struggle to create the right training and coaching approach. They sold their employer on what a great Sales Professional they are and how they will bring this approach to their sales organization, but they struggle to make it happen. Now they are stuck. They promised great results and they are not coming. They are losing good people, not hiring good replacements, and they don’t know what to do. Why?

They have not taken the time to be truly successful in their past positions and observe. They were too anxious to “get there” and when they did, it didn’t work. As I said to one of these talent young professionals recently: “Nail this position, the rest will take care of itself.”

Don’t let this happen to you. I’m still learning after 30 years. Nobody has all the answers. And if you stay in a position long enough to show consistent achievement, the next opportunity will come your way, and the next and the next. You will learn about yourself and observe, over time, leadership styles that work for a team and don’t. You can then apply those lessons learned when you lead. If you are too busy worrying about the next promotion, your time and focus is on job searches or politicking within your company. That most likely will cause you to not excel at your current position or learn the leadership fundamentals you need to succeed at the next level.

How to Do It
  • Soak up the lessons from the leaders you are exposed to at every level. Take the opportunity to learn about different leadership philosophies and styles.
  • Request opportunities for leadership development in your current companies, because it will benefit you and your current employer… and any future employer.
  • Remember, opportunities are best earned, not expected. If you show consistent achievement over a period of time, it will be noticed internally and externally. Then, you will get the opportunity to learn and advance.

With this approach, when you get your first leadership position, you will be better prepared. Remember, you need to be confident enough to say to yourself:

“Yes, I would want to work for me.”

Mastermind Insights