How Your Ego Can Help and Hurt
By Steve McClatchy, President
Alleer Training & Consulting
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUPERSTAR SALES EGO
by Sheree R. Curry
Face it, sales managers are ego-maniacs. It comes with the territory. But too majestic an ego could put your reputation – and job – in jeopardy. Your supreme confidence may help you close deals, but it can be a real obstacle to team development.
There is a way to attain success without letting your ego be your guide. Sales expert Steve McClatchy, founder of Alleer Training & Consulting, who’s improved sales teams at Nestle, Comcast, Microsoft, HP, ABC TV and Terminix, among others, offers these tips to help you keep your ego in check.
1. Establish a set of ground rules and stick to them yourself. The effectiveness of any group of people is driven by the rules they’ve decided to live by. What is deemed acceptable or unacceptable behavior and how violators will be addressed helps a group to focus on its purpose instead of on internal politics. People with large egos are constantly breaking the rules or rather they make sure rules don’t exist. Without rules they can do what they want, when they want and to whom they want. Rules like “we start and end meetings on time” or “we don’t talk behind each other’s back” are basics for a group to be productive but few sales leaders can or will check their ego to create and follow these rules. When rules are broken without consequence, or rules don’t exist, it’s almost impossible for a group to produce superior results.
2. Promote a collaborative, democratic culture. More often than not, a dominant personality creates a culture that suppresses subordinates and discourages innovation within the team. To avoid this don’t just encourage employees to offer feedback and ideas, create a formal process where they’re required to do so. If you don’t have a formal process for receiving feedback from those that work with you, then you won’t receive it. Is your ego up for the challenge?
3. Learn to love admitting when you’re wrong. Employees, customers, and shareholders know when you’re wrong. Pretending that you don’t know doesn’t make you right, it just undermines their confidence in you. If you want to build productive commercial relationships, you need to be viewed as trustworthy. Accordingly, own up to your mistakes before others do it for you.
Think you’re currently doing well as a sales leader? That’s hardly surprising if you truly have a large ego. So why take your own word for it when you can ask those around you? Seek out a mentor, adviser, or peer you can trust and ask them questions based on the above. Try: 1) Do I admit when I’m wrong? 2) Do I solicit and listen carefully to others’ suggestions? 3) Have you ever observed me breaking the rules? If so, how?
Remember, your ego can be a positive thing in that it keeps you driven and confident – in fact, it probably got you where you are today as much as your wits or persistence. But it’s humbling to note that nine out of ten new companies and products that start in corporate America fail within the first five years. We’ve all observed in the majority of those cases how a blissful overconfident ego helped fuel the failure. If you want to flaunt a resume with a stellar track record, it would be wise to tame, fine-tune, and otherwise tone down that ego.
* This article has been slightly modified from its original publication.