I had a great pleasure of running the MBA Class at the Krakow Business School (University of Economics). The topic of Sales Communication turned into a broader discussion on leadership communication. I would love to share with you few lessons we learnt.
We realized that both leaders and salespeople SELL = INFLUENCE people to change and the best leaders do it without having to pull out the authority card.
As Mike Bosworth the founder of Story Seekers says:
“People are influenced to change by people they trust”
So how do salespeople/leaders build trust? Think about the most impactful person in your life. It can be your parent, mentor, coach, boss, friend. They probably have this in common:
- Being authentic and vulnerable
Leaders and salespeople tend to play supermen and wonder women. We know it all, we give advice or solution to any problem, expertise is our second name. We are the best consultants not only at work but in personal life as well. We want to win and be right all the time. The paradox is that we don’t have to be right and perfect to win trust and succeed in business (and have good relationships in personal life as well). In times we live in, we are overwhelmed by superficial, fake or botox-style information in media, social media, politics, business. We are confused and lost. We are striving for truth and authenticity. Leaders and salespeople can win our hearts by being real, authentic and vulnerable, having the courage to admit mistakes, weaknesses, imperfections, share “bitter” life lessons and be seen as humans.
I strongly recommend you the Ted Talk by Brene Brown that inspired me so much to understand and embrace vulnerability. WATCH: The power of vulnerability
- Listening with empathy, listening with no agenda
Listening is hard and not natural especially for leaders and salespeople. We prefer to talk and be seen. It is becoming even harder nowadays, when we try to multitask and are often distracted by technology. Listening is hard in times of massive information. But listening is crucial in building connection and trust. It is one of the most underestimated leadership skills that can be taught. At the Story Seekers workshops we practice tending for emotions, mindfulness, being present and consciously putting your agenda aside. Very powerful skills while working with people.
- Being empathetic
What is empathy ? I like this definition by Alfred Adler
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another”.
With empathy, you sense unspoken emotions. You listen attentively to understand the other person’s point of view, the terms in which they think about what’s going on. As Daniel Goleman proves empathy is super important leadership skill. Researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership found that “Empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses. The findings were consistent across the sample: empathic emotion as rated from the leader’s subordinates positively predicts job performance ratings from the leader’s boss.”
The story of Agnieszka from my MBA class proves that empathy leads to better team bonding and productivity.
- Starting with WHY so that people understand what is your cause and your values
Simon Sinek, one of the most popular Ted Talk speakers said “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. The most inspiring people know their WHY and tell the story of WHY. The WHY is your personal belief of why you do what you do. Do you know how to tell this story of WHY? At the Story Seekers workshops we develop the WHY story – the Ambassador story. If you haven’t seen it, this Ted Talk is a must: Watch How great leaders inspire action
- Storytelling as a way to inspire people and share your point of you
Stories are thousands of years old, they’re the reason information has survived from generations. Our brains are hardwired to stories, they can deal with a structured story – while they can’t deal with mounds of data. Stories inspire, captivate and resonate, stories transport us into other people’s world. And the best thing – stories are universal – we find storytelling in every culture, religion and geography. Why not use them in sales and leadership?
In the last MBA class that I run at the Krakow Business School (University of Economics) we have been telling and tending stories from business and personal life. I want to thank all MBA students for the courage of being vulnerable and authentic, listening to each other with empathy and reveling their why. I feel so inspired and empowered by you guys! Thank you!
With the special dedication to the Executive MBA class 2017