Direct Sales Success: Misconceptions of Leadership

Often, I’m approached by direct sellers that want to move into leadership, but feel they don’t have the necessary knowledge, skills or abilities to be a leader.


There are a couple of misconceptions about leadership that prevent many would-be leaders from stepping into this role and earning the income they so richly deserve:

1. “I don’t know everything!”
If you’re brand new, people expect that you don’t know everything. The more important point, however, is whether you can find the answers people are looking for. Train your team to try to find answers on their own and come to you when they get stuck. You should never position yourself as the know-it-all in your group because it stifles the leadership qualities in others.

In fact, make a decision now to empower your team to share knowledge, resources and best practices freely with each other.

Warning: in order for this to work well, you must have open communication on your team and a willingness to help one another. A rising tide lifts all ships – but only if all the ships are in the water.

2. “I don’t know how to be a leader!”
If you’ve ever been a teacher, parent, or boss, you have some idea of what makes a good leader: patience, understanding, tenacity and vision (coupled with the ability to see through other people’s B.S.) are a great start. In truth, most direct sellers are natural leaders because of their entrepreneurial drive and desire to help others.

When in doubt, look to people you would classify as lousy leaders for examples of what not to do. Likewise, learn from some of the great leaders of our time by reading their books and biographies. Model what works in your business.

Both of these excuses are easily vanquished for the person who truly desires to step into leadership. Here is a short list of recommendations for anyone considering a leadership role (in Direct Sales or otherwise):

1. Connect – with other leaders in other companies as well as your own. Leaders need a network that is strong and diverse. Look for people in other fields besides direct sales, too. This will broaden your horizons as well as your ability to relate to others.

2. Don’t wait for permission – from your upline, your family, your friends – or even yourself. Great leaders step into their role with authority – and very often learn as they go. In fact, when you stop learning, you stop leading. Which brings us to…

3. Learn all you can – about your company, your products, your team and most importantly, yourself. This isn’t an ego trip. If you really want to become knowledgable, you need to take time to learn new things. Then, SHARE what you’ve learned to help your team make fast progress.

4. Ask for help – from your leaders, a coach, a mentor – anyone that can shorten the learning curve and bring you to your goal faster. Be aware that any good help requires SOME kind of investment: time, energy, money, focus. You will only get out of it, what you put into it.

5. Relax. You’re going to make mistakes along the way – the best leaders always do. Taking risks implies a certain amount of failure at some point. Leadership requires both a sense of humor and a thick skin.

True leadership comes from within. It’s not some painted-on facade that you get to wear just because you’ve earned a certain amount of money or recruited a certain number of people. It’s a powerful place of responsibility that anyone can step into – with a team of thousands, or a team of one.

© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young.

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Lisa Robbin Young is a certified direct sales marketing coach, teaching direct sellers to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at