Each year on July 5, I like to take some time to count my blessings.
Why July 5?
First, it’s very near the half-way point of the calendar year, which makes it a good time to reflect on my accomplishments thus far, and ensure I’m on track for my annual goals as well. It’s also right after Independence Day in the United States, so if I’ve been on holiday, I’m back to work. Lastly, it’s my half-birthday, and as I get older, it’s important for me to recognize what’s going right in my life – and to express gratitude for it.
As a direct sales leader, I learned the value of gratitude the hard way. One year, I thought I would be charming and call reach out to all of my team members on Thanksgiving. Just a quick call to say Happy Thanksgiving and let them know that I appreciate them.
It was the biggest mistake of my life. It was also the most valuable lesson I ever learned as a Direct Sales Leader.
All but two of my team members were actually angry with me for calling them on a family holiday. One consultant went so far as to remind me it was Thanksgiving Day, just in case I had a faulty calendar on my desk.
I calmly reassured each consultant and leader on my team that this wasn’t a “work” call, it was merely a gesture of goodwill on my part to wish them an amazing holiday weekend. They softened when they realized my intentions, and all of them wished me an equally happy weekend.
But in their anger was my greatest lesson: I was not leading them and treating them like the family I wanted them to be. The fact that no one expected, nor wanted to hear from me on Thanksgiving, left me reeling from the fact that I hadn’t done my job as a leader.
It became my mission to b more consistent in reaching out to my team – not just with the monthly recognition email, but to celebrate the wins in their lives. When their kid had a birthday, a recital or any event of note, I made a point to reach out to my consultant and celebrate with her – even if only on the phone or via email.
Perhaps you may think it was a bit Pollyanna of me, but the results were incredible: not only did my personal team increase productivity, they also contacted me less with requests that they could easily find the answers to elsewhere. There was less phone tag and more focus on income producing activities.
We also developed leaders at a faster pace when my front line started using the same approach with their front line organization.
Being a leader means sharing what works with your team. Being a leader means recognizing all the efforts your team makes to improve and maintain the organization. Failure to recognize your team is the quickest way to watch them fall apart.
Share your gratitude. It doesn’t mean gushing about how wonderful they are when they’re barely making the minimums. It does mean holding them accountable and setting expectations for success. When they do the activities required for achieving those expectations, they deserve recognition. And they also deserve recognition for choosing to be on your team. They could have picked anyone. They chose you. Treat your direct sales team mates with the honor they deserve. They are your direct sales family.
© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young.
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