I spent Veterans Day reflecting, among other things. My Husband was active duty for 10 years. He had a dangerous job with lots of separation and uncertainty. Though it was a difficult 10 years we learned so much. Those lessons helped to shape both of us. For him, they made him a better in corporate America. They made me a better leader, a better coach and a better direct seller.
Be strong even when you don’t feel it. I don’t know where I learned it but here it is… tears are for hello, smiles are for goodbye. He already doesn’t want to go and is wrestling with his emotion. There is a nervous energy in him and he needs to focus on the mission at hand. He does not need to be distracted by the memory of your tears on the tarmac, in the yard or at the airport security. He needs to know that you are fine and that you are confident he will return.
It is much the same in business… we used to say “fake it until you make it”. You have to get up and do it when you don’t feel like it. You have to smile when you feel like crying at a failed vendor event, a flopped open house or a bad month. You have to be strong and positive for those around you. Your team, potential team members and customers are watching. They need your strength and confidence.
People will not respect a weak leader. They may salute the rank but they follow the man. A weak or inexperienced “leader’ will never garner their trust and confidence. Those things are required in order to lead people in dangerous times. They can pin all the brass to you that they have, you will never truly be a leader until the troops follow you willingly.
This applies to us in direct sales leadership as much as the Army. Build that trust. Ask questions, be willing to learn and be willing to learn from those who are supposed to “salute” you. Don’t ever think that you are entitled to respect or privileges because of a title. Also, don’t ever believe that it is easier for your leader because they have a title.
True Leaders, lead from the front. Generals don’t lead wars… the guys at the front do. They rush into danger and the others follow. They earn the respect of their peers from the front. An E8 (the highest enlisted rank) carries far more respect and trust than a Captain (Officer rank) because of his experience and demonstrated ability to lead people to success and safety.
It is the same with us in direct selling. Too often “leaders” want to lead from the rear. They want to sit in the General’s office and tell their team what to do. Our industry just doesn’t work that way. Leaders must model the behavior they wish to see… selling… sponsoring … “parties” .. vendor events and more. Leaders who “manage” are managing atrophying teams. At some point, you have to leave the confines of comfort and head to the front.
A final nod to military spouses everywhere. It is the hardest job there is and largely goes unsung. I see you keeping it all together, running the support group, raising the kids and figuring out how to the pay the bills. You are a HERO!