Wednesday, February 17, 2010


As a sales professional I purposefully stayed away from leadership roles. I liked the freedom of being in the field and the power of bringing in a new deal. When a new deal was on the table, the squabbles seemed to dissipate and my co-workers came together to service the new client. That's where I like to focus my time and energy.

A few years ago I was asked to be the President of a referral group. I was initially reluctant but then thought I'd love to do it because the goal of the group was new business development and that's what I love to do.

As I took over the leadership role, I inherited the stresses of the President. After each meeting I would receive a host of complaints that included: the coffee is weak, someone is not a strong member, the meeting started late, forms needed to be completed etc. etc. etc.

The complaints started to wear my spirit down. I was new to leadership and I thought I didn't like it.

I struggled with the challenge and then decided the solution was 'to focus on the goal'. If the complaint did not impact the goal positively or negatively, it didn't deserve significant time and attention. The 'coffee is weak' got dismissed pretty quickly.

The goal was simple: to generate more referrals for each other. I would measure the success or failure of each activity by how it affected the goal. We did produce results, the meetings were focused, and we attracted high caliber entrepreneurs to our group.

There was still a challenge though. The meetings now were robotic. I missed networking and working the room. Now that I was leading, I had to focus on the structure and gave up some of what I loved.

I also realized that there was another unspoken goal but it was very present. The goal was 'friendship'. These members truly liked, respected and enjoyed each others company. Although it was unspoken, this goal was equally as important and, to some members, more important than the goal of generating leads.

The goal of friendship added a comraderie to our group that visitors felt right away. It gave us a competitive advantage. It was important to the members, so it became important to me too.

I focused on the stated goal and the unstated goal. The meetings became less robotic, I had more fun, got to do what I loved and the group helped me to learn how to lead.

It was through their friendship that I learned how to lead. Under any other circumstance, I would've moved far from the challenge and focused on getting the next deal. I'm a much richer person for the experience and grateful for the friendships I created.
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1 comment:

  1. Way To Go! I agree with you that the goal was 'friendship'. Furthermore I recently read an interesting post by Codebaby about “Your Competitive Advantage Is Your Customers Buying Experience” that I thought you would find interesting.