Most of us have heard that managers do things right and leaders do the right thing. Okay, fine. Sounds good. But for most sales managers, leaders and Vice Presidents, it’s not an either or deal. No matter what your title is, you were hired to do both. You have to lead the people and manage the process. The key is identifying where your strength lays – management or leadership, understanding what that means to your organization, and then taking steps to ensure you have both areas covered effectively.

If you have managerial skills, everyone is impressed with your organizational structure. Your charts and graphs are detailed, informative and full of useful facts and data. You are up to date, have the current information at hand, and are generally always on budget. Because you tend to stay in the comfy confines of your office, you are available, responsive to internal issues and deadlines and generally run a fairly tight ship. You run efficient advertising and marketing meetings, only making the necessary changes to rein your consultants in and keep them in line.

When you are out in the field, you can be somewhat anxious. It’s been some time since you sold, if you sold at all, and you’re not sure you want your lack of selling skills exposed. Besides, you don’t really like being away from the office. You never know when something is going to come up that you need to be there to handle. You don’t want the boss thinking that you are out in the field, goofing off and wasting time. Besides, all your salespeople know what the rules and procedures are. You published them again last month, with a few important updates. If people would just follow them, they would have more sales and you wouldn’t have as much stress.

Since you are such an efficient manager, and few people possess both traits in abundance, it’s probable you lack a few leadership skills. Motivating the team and dynamic sales meetings aren’t your cup of tea. And besides, to you they are usually overstated money wasters that seldom produce lasting results. People need to motivate themselves and follow your procedures.

However, if you lack leadership skills, your sales team will never reach their potential. You probably have a frustrating time hiring. They interviewed well and you checked references yet they never seem to turn out quite like you thought they would. Your turnover rate is higher than it should be and it seems like there is always some sales related issue that requires your time to solve, settle or mediate.

One the other hand, if you are a good leader, time in the office is often frustrating. You love being out in the field, helping your sales team overcome the latest objection or polish their presentation of a new product. After all, these people are the only ones that make money for the company, so that is where you should be spending your time. Not spending time making sure a bunch of reports that no one reads look good. Nothing happens in the office. Just meetings. Getting senior management up to date. Getting a few decisions made that should be yours to make anyway. More meetings. None of what you are really good at happens in the office.

The weekly staff meeting can be a frustration for you. Reports are seldom totally complete or accurate. Frustrating details that are meaningless as far as you are concerned but annoying to others on the management team, are often wrong or neglected. You get questioned a lot and it doesn’t appear that others are totally convinced of your answers. So they want you to run more of those reports you are not so good at. You don’t understand why the other members of the senior management team don’t understand and endorse what you are trying to accomplish with the sales staff. After all, you are only trying to make money for the Company.

Any of this sound familiar? Frustrating for everybody; leader types, managers, senior management, salespeople and the office support staff.

What to do? First of all, admit where you are on the scale. Mostly leader? Mostly manager? The honest answer to that question is the beginning of improvement.

Next, take action.

If you are a leader, get some detail help. Have people review your charts, graphs and reports. Work with other team members asking for help to get you the information that senior management needs. It’s embarrassing for them to sit there week after week watching you get grilled, nailed and called out in meetings for being wrong, inaccurate or sloppy. They’d be happy to help you so everyone can get through a meeting more smoothly.

If you are a manager, get a buffer. Another set of eyes and ears. You probably have someone on your staff that has a good relationship with the field. The person the sales team calls to see what kind of mood you are in before they transfer the call to bring up an issue with you. While your natural instincts are to resent that person, don’t. Use them for the valuable resource they are. They can be your most valuable resource. They have insights and an understanding of the people on your team. They can keep you from throwing those emotional hand grenades that rarely seem to do anything but set everyone on edge.

Of course if you have a large staff and a corresponding budget, leaders can hire managers and managers can hire someone to lead the field. But that is rarely the case.  We have to do the best with what we have. They key begins with acknowledging where our strengths lie and acting on that knowledge. Not only you, but your entire organization will be more productive if you first acknowledge and then take steps to strengthen your weaknesses.

Become a member of The Sales Revolution on LinkedIn and find out more at  Join other like minded leaders and managers who aren’t satisfied with the way things are, want to reach their full potential and have the most productive staff they can have.

By Kirk Chittick

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