There was a time long ago and far away when leaders would speak and employees would take their marching orders, salute and get the job done.
Many organizations have leaders who seem stuck in that state of mind. Time has moved on and they still wonder why their people “haven’t gotten the memo.” (A leader really said that line to me about his employees.)
In coaching leaders like these, I tell them that today leadership and, indeed life, is about sales. With new generational attitudes in the workplace and the fragmentation of communications in our digital world, leaders must sell themselves and their ideas to succeed.
This was reinforced for me recently when I read “The Art of Sale, Learning From the Masters About the Business of Life” by Phillip Delves Broughton, which I recommend. He follows sales people in many different professions around the world and shows that for all of us today, life is sales.
Steve Jobs, the late Apple visionary, certainly demonstrated the importance of a leader selling his ideas and himself.
Four Keys to Selling Yourself and Your Ideas
More than anything today, employees want you to be open and honest about what is going on. Drop the corporate speak and get to the point.
Be consistent: every time you stand up to talk, or send out an email, you are selling yourself and your ideas. You should have few consistent, powerful messages that resonate with our audience.
The best way to engage your employees is to talk about what matters to them. Leaders will often go through long presentations talking abstractly about the implications for the organization and miss the punch line–what this means for employees.
You should also be a collector and sharer of stories from your organization. Nothing is more powerful than stories in engaging people and influencing their perceptions and behavior.
Selling anything is always easier if it engages the emotions. As a general rule an audience will be excited if you show your passion. This is a dull subject, like HR policies, you say. Well, if you believe it’s dull then it is.
If you can find what is interesting and compelling in your work, you will exponentially increase your employees’ interest. Practice speaking with emotion in your voice and avoid monotone and clichés. Your employees want to know you’re excited. Be excited.
Nearly every major organization in this country is going through continuous change. Effectively leading organizations through change is a big part of every leader’s responsibility.
An enormous part of leading through change is remaining optimistic and confident about what the future. It’s okay to be honest and candid about some of the toughness you will face, but everyone can be encouraged and pointed towards a brighter future.
Begin using these techniques to sell yourself and your ideas and you’ll notice a shift in the feedback you get and the attitudes of your team.
How do you sell yourself and your personal ideas?