5 Leadership Lessons Ryan Learned His First Day on the Job

By Ryan Taft
First Day on the Job
It was my first day in new home sales. I was in my mid twenties and overly excited to get started in handing out keys to my future customers. There was a sales meeting that day to motivate us and educate us on how to sell better. I thought, “Perfect! I love learning”.

As I walked into the sales meeting, the sales leader…who we will call Jim, got up in front of the room and proceeded to “inspire” the team by saying the following:

“I am not sure what’s wrong with you all. We didn’t hit our goal again this week so I can only assume you either don’t know ho to close deals or you can’t overcome objections. So here is what we are going to do…Each table will get an objection. You have 10 minutes to figure out how to overcome the objection and then one person from each group has to come up here (in front of 70 people) and battle it out with me.”

When the 10 minutes were up Jim looked around the room for a victim and honed in on my group. As you could guess, my table partners all looked at me as if to say, “Go get him newbie.”

He might as well have thrown me into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. Jim proceeded to use me as a punching bag and, oh yeah…I never did overcome his objection.

It was the most embarrassing moment of my professional career.  That being said, I did learn a ton about leadership from Jim.

“Half of being smart is knowing what NOT to do.”
– Glenn Sparks

Here are 5 leadership tips that will keep you from being a Jim to your sales team.

  1. Leadership is not about you – Jim and I once got into a verbal confrontation when I was a sales leader about what the sales team needed to succeed. Jim said, “I don’t care what they think they need. This is my team and I decide what happens.” #DontBeAJim
  1. Great leaders are coaches not managers – Your job as a leader is to develop people. Help develop skills, abilities and attitudes that create success and the numbers will manage themselves.
  1. Get personal – The quote, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care” by Theodore Roosevelt applies here. Do you know the names of your team members’ kids? Do you know the struggles they are dealing with or are you just focused on what they can produce for you?
  1. Talk about their goals not just company goals – Similar to number three above, do you know what drives your team? Instead of telling them, “We need three sales this week,” frame it from their perspective. Ask them how getting three more sales will help improve their life. They will always work harder for themselves and their family.
  1. Give your team a voice – Nobody enjoys a dictatorship or a “My way or the highway” environment. This is true of your team as well. Make it common practice to ask your team individually and as a group for input. When you give them a voice, they feel a sense of contribution. According to Tony Robbins, contribution is one of the greatest needs we have as humans.

I learned many other lessons from Jim, and not all of them fall into the category of what not to do. That being said, I encourage you to look at your leadership style and constantly look for improvements. When you improve, you will change your teams’ world.


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About the Author: Ryan Taft

Ryan Taft
Ryan Taft is consumed with a passion for helping others achieve breakthrough results in sales, business and life. With a career spanning two decades training and coaching sales teams from call centers to new home sales to Realtors®, Ryan combines his knowledge of human performance, psychology and sales skills development to deliver extraordinarily engaging, energizing and insightful training experiences that drive peak performance at all levels.  Learn more at jeffshore.com and follow Ryan on Twitter.