3 attributes of great leaders

What do great leaders do? We asked someone who has learned from the best.

In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.

Ian McVey

‘What do you need to do to be the very best leader in your business?’ was the title of one of the afternoon sessions. We were excited to welcome 5 amazing leadership experts to the SaaSGrowth stage to talk about how to run teams.

Our final speaker in this session was Ian McVey, Head of Enterprise Sales for Northern Europe at Qualtrics. Ian, as well as being a great sales leader himself at Qualtrics, has worked with some of the best in the business, including Simon O’Kane, who is a great inspiration to me.

Ian talked about 3 things that Simon, Ian and other great sales leaders all do.

1 — Great leaders have a vision

It may sound a bit ‘out there’, but the best leaders have a vision that guides them in every action they take. It aligns with their values and who they really are. It’s being yourself and doing it your way, being the leader you want to be. For salespeople, Ian put it this way.

‘For salespeople, for investors, for founders, what is your vision? What is your personal vision? What is your company vision?’

‘Our CEO’s vision is everyone in the world using Qualtrics in some capacity.’

Ian went on to share his vision.

‘I’m passionate about technology. I’m passionate about what it can do for society, both for corporations and citizens. I don’t use that a vision for my career though. I use it as a vision for the company that I’m selling. For Qualtrics, I believe we’re empowering the next wave of economic growth. When I talk to my team, I tell them they’re here to empower the global economy.’

2 — The best leaders show, not tell

Show, don’t tell. As salespeople, we’re told this all the time. But what does it mean in practice? Ian put it this way.

‘Too many times we write emails, and we tell people, ‘Go do this!’ It’s far better that you get up and show it. Show the way.’

‘When you tell people what to do, too often they misunderstand you and your frames of reference. Go out and show them what you are trying to do.’

3 — Real leaders care personally and challenge directly

This is a piece of advice Ian got from Kim Scott, the executive coach to Qualtrics’ CEO. Her book, ‘Radical Candor’, is a must.

‘Radical candor means care personally, but challenge directly. With your teams, do not be afraid to challenge directly. You’re doing them a favour.’

‘If you’ve got a salesperson in a role who isn’t a salesperson. They’re underperforming, they’re early in their career, but they’re on the wrong track. If you can see that because of your experience, you’ll do well to get them off that track.’

It sounds harsh, but it’s true. Because you care about them, even when you hit them something they don’t want to hear, it comes from a good place, and it will help them in the long run.

‘Having the team, having the people is key to success. The business is the people.’

What do you think?

Over to you now. What other attributes do you believe great leaders possess? What do you do to improve your leadership skills? Let us know in the comments below.

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