Selling Yourself as a Leader

Here are some ideas on “selling” yourself and your leadership agenda to others. (Sorry to use the “S” word … but in truth, to lead well you’ll need to persuade your team to get on board with you and the things you want to get done. So yes, you do have to sell it. It’s a sales and marketing task.)

Marketers know that lots of good information (Big Data) gives them special insight into consumers, which results in better business. They use predictive analytics as a tool to spot key characteristics which indicate trends, preferences, and future buying patterns, and correlate with specific target market groups. And then they use this knowledge to drive sales (think “pop-up” ads, targeted offers, special recommendations). A key point is that they continue to add to their data, so it doesn’t become outdated and useless.

We can learn from this and apply it to leadership.

The best way to persuade people is to be able to relate with them. And the way to do that is to know something about them. Better results begin with better information. So yes … we should be continually adding to and improving our understanding of our people in four important areas (and expanding it from there):

1)      Individualism – “Who they are as a Person?:” Before we get to their work, we should understand where people are coming from?  What are their experiences and personalities? Kids, pets, significant others? With this knowledge, we’re better equipped to interact with them in a positive manner. When people feel cared for and understood, they’ll be productive. Information like this often comes through “water cooler” and casual conversations. Go there.

2)      Talents – Strengths and Weaknesses: Real insight into job skills tells us what development is needed and guides how we direct them and delegate to them. It allows us to better execute and make appropriate assignments. Pay attention to what they know, what they could know, and what’s so good about them. Don’t try to fix every little flaw.

3)      Motivations: Motivation comes in many different forms. Knowing what excites them as a group, and on an individual basis, helps us discover the means in which to engage them in their work, and connect to the mission of the organization. Being observant and reflective helps reveal the what drives the person behind the behaviors.

4)      Goals and Opinions:  Unless others feel we have their best interests and needs at heart, they’ll withhold their trust. Really recognizing what’s important to them, and how they see things, gives us critical input to how to build mutual understanding and see ways to help them reach the goals they have for themselves.

Communicate to relate.

The simple formula for improving our leadership ability is to regularly talk and interact with our workers. Getting to know them (and appreciating them). Exchanging ideas. Listening carefully. Getting out of our offices and going to see them. Meeting their needs to feel heard and understood. Putting as much thought and effort behind our informal exchanges as we do with our planned meetings and task assignments.

The better we communicate … the better relationships we’ll have, and the more cooperation we’ll get. It’s what sells us as leaders.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on research conducted for the *‘The Relationships Report: The Linkage between Leadership and Relationships,’ by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find ‘How Leaders Build Relationships at Work’ at short insights on Twitter at #RelationshipsRPT

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