Facing change in the new world has become the new norm in the past few years. The quick changes and experiences we've all lived through have shown us that the new standard is not waiting and reacting. It is making hard decisions. It leads our organizations in a way that forces us to identify and mitigate risks quickly and decisively. This is how we have been leading for decades, but the climate and variables were very different. We had the luxury of reaction time and thoughtful forecasting based on known factors. As we've learned, profound change can happen overnight. We've been confronted with the reality that it's not so much about "what could happen," it's about what will happen and when. If you are not prepared, it can take you out of the marketplace– overnight.
Lead with purpose and anchor yourself to the principles of your organization. Put aside the money, titles, and status and think about what motivated you to join or start this organization. I'm talking about deep thinking through the real impact of what you do and the lives of the thousands of people your decisions impact. Stay true to your brand's core and mission while finding new ways to drive growth. The most straightforward way to face change is by making the hard decisions, planning well-measured strategies, and developing programs and incentives with your organization's purpose, people, and the raving fans who love and use your products in mind.
By focusing your energy on choosing high-impact, low-effort initiatives, you will have the ability to increase your agility and perfect your execution. Be intentional in how you identify what is; low effort – high impact and high effort- high impact. Then measure what you do internally against your OKRs, your execution plans, and your go-to-market strategy. This is the exact formula with which I lead and manage our high-performing marketing, revenue, and strategy teams. We operate in several micro-teams with a high-functional strategic outlook and create a safe environment in which ideas, strategic thinking, and an emphasis on foundational high-impact initiatives. This has unequivocally led the brand on the journey of brand loyalty, has helped us position and showcase our experience obsession, and positioned us for revenue growth. It has been tested and proven to work and make the team a more cohesive unit, and it is in the best position we have ever been in!
When we discuss "high/low impact," this is about the big picture, impact on the field, the customers, the brand positioning, the financials, and overall revenue growth. When we discuss "high/low effort," this is directly related to what is required from your internal staff and financial state to make "it" happen – whatever the "it" means to your organization.
This measure can be applied to the day-to-day operation and management of high-performing teams. Additionally, it can be incorporated into your executive-level strategic decision-making, leading to your desired immediate and outstanding results. Now, remember, the gives or gains are ultimately influenced by the micro-decisions you make every day.
It's up to you to keep your internal people motivated. Invest in them and be curious about what they want and where they want to go. It's time for us to be a catalyst, develop and make them experts on what they love to do, and help them grow their abilities to heights they never imagined. More than ever, people want to work for organizations that invest, care about, and grow their internal strength with the same vigor we exert to expand our field and customer base. You can create that positive and unique company culture you seek and boost your positives if you do so in an authentic way. Be honest and transparent; your people want to know what is happening. They see it, and they are living it. They want to be part of the decision process, contribute to the solutions, and pull together to push forward with you. Don't assume you know better on your own. You will soon find out you probably don't. Now is the time for collaboration and alignment.
In this time, when we're all obsessed with technology and trendsetting, we are still seeking human connection and purpose. Your word needs to be authentic and rock solid. It must communicate security and transparency. Say one thing and do something different, and your efforts toward authenticity will tank. Be a person of your word. Stay true to the core intention of your brand and the legacy it is creating.
Align the leadership - starting at the top with the corporate team.
Again, collaboration and alignment are key. Stay at the table until the top executives have one unified agenda and one unified voice. Lead as one unit. Leaders should be the first in the boat and the last out. No more individual agendas. No more unique interpretations of the strategy, the plans, or the mission. Establish the expectation that yours is one organization, vision, and mission with one unique purpose and voice. Everyone should be expected to take responsibility for their influence and actions. Investing in and empowering your people builds trust and empowers them to rise to the challenges we face. If you can't take a day off and leave your phone at home, you don't have the right team yet, or you have work to do in creating that trust with your people. It takes care, time, training, more care, time, time, and more time to build trust and develop your unicorn dream team. You can get there!
As you navigate change both internally and externally, focus on momentum, and rebuild trust, approaching every situation as an event. Use times of transition to shift people to the right seats on the bus. Knowing your team is the best way to make strategic changes when the moment calls for it. Build a team that believes in the vision and mission of the organization and is willing to work the plan strategically to make it a reality. You don't need people who think like you. However, you do need people who challenge you and bring their best to the table to bring out the best in others.
Earning the trust of the salesforce requires a unified front.
That means an investment of time, exceptional communication, and leveraging different channels with the same message. Build trust by building bridges between where you are to where you are headed. Recognize that these connect two important pillars of who you are and whom you want to become as a brand. Yet in between the pillars and what makes up this bridge are the people: those who got you started, those that are now gone, those who persist through the storm, and those you are preparing to attract. It takes time to develop uncanny belief and loyalty, and just one small, inauthentic action can destroy it in an instant. So be intentional and be aligned in every single opportunity that you and your field-facing teams have when interacting and engaging the field.
Communicate with intention and purpose and be transparent and open in a way that inspires your sales force. Think ahead. What story do you want to tell? What do you want people to remember? Be on the right side of history. You won't get it right every time, but you will learn and make progress every day. Celebrate the small wins, the golden steps leading to the milestones, and the quick wins that make it all worthwhile. Maximize all your touchpoints, connect the dots, and don't be afraid to turn up the volume on all the communication channels to drive the right influence.
Know who you are and work accordingly.
Don't lead a billion-dollar organization like it's a 100 million-dollar business or a 100 million-dollar business like a billion-dollar company. The same should apply when leading an organization with a global presence; each market will face a different challenge, operations, laws, and necessities; you must know each market and lead them accordingly. Bring your same emphasis on authenticity to these interactions. Please get to know the people, the culture, and what's important and distinctive about it.
Processes, processes, processes + documentation, documentation, documentation.
Optimize your processes and become more efficient by establishing more effective methods with the proper documentation. Do not annoy or demoralize your people with systems and processes that are difficult to navigate, useless or don't create lasting change, and don't represent returns over time. Again, those gives or gains will haunt your bottom line and impact your revenue. Instead, establish simple and clear processes to leverage your pros and shape your diamonds in the rough. Don't lead by turning down the fire every single day; plan and manage risk.
There's no manual on how to run a direct sales organization – especially when we're hit with a global crisis. However, when you trust your mentors, trust your people, trust your team, and listen to your customers, you're ahead of the game. Take all the time necessary to get the leadership buy-in.
Change is everlasting. Be bold in your strategic thinking and firm in your decision-making.