Leadership Isn’t Always Predicted on Sales

Evaluation of leadership has always been interesting to me in the business world. I say this because many times when we speak about someone’s ability to be a leader, there is a tendency to simply evaluate the quantitative, or sales, performance.

Typically if they are doing well in sales – hitting plan or higher – then they have to be a good leader otherwise they would not be able to hit those kind of performance metrics. Basing someone’s sole definition as a good leader on sales performance is where many organizations have found themselves with high turnover and a less than stellar reputation. Some with the added thought this is just part of doing business.

The reality is we can no longer make assumptions that people are good leaders simply based on performance. When a leader is hitting plan, but has 100% plus turnover, there is a bigger issue. Now, it doesn’t always mean there is a leadership issue; however in my experience, the turnover is generally reflected due to the leader. And although a leader may be making 101% to plan, reflect on what percentage to plan they could be at with 20% turnover versus 100%.

So what do we need to look at besides just sales performance?

When evaluating leaders in your organization, it is imperative to take both a quantitative and qualitative viewpoint. Meaning, take into account both performance numbers and then the traits which cannot always be evaluated from a data point.

Traits not defined by quantitative data are not always easy to discuss or review, but there are a few things you can establish to make it a little more possible.

1. Define Competencies

Competency definition is crucial for both organizations and employees to understand the necessary skills for a position. For example, a management position may require someone to have managerial courage, strategic agility, and the ability to confront and develop direct reports. Each of these would in turn offer more clarity to help both the organization and the employee understand what skills are necessary for success.

Additionally, defining competencies provides a clearer definition on recruiting right talent, aligning pay correctly, and outlining career paths.

If you have an in house organizational development department, they can assist with defining a competency model. Otherwise, there are a number of organizations who offer tools to build out a competency model.

2. Leadership Review

When discussing talent within an organization, it is again easy to simply focus on the numbers. Instead, incorporate opportunities to discuss both the employee’s ability to hit targets, but then also discuss the employee’s overall ability to lead. What does turnover look like? What about engagement scores? How is the person with coaching employees? How are they performing against position competencies?

These are items which dig in a little deeper to get a clearer, holistic view of talent. Incorporating quarterly leadership reviews in the mix assists the organization with understanding where talent lies as a whole.

3. Engagement Surveys and Turnover

While both of these items typically provide a quantitative means for evaluating, I always look at the numbers as a starting point. It is how you utilize the information to dig down is what makes the difference. My view is there is always a story behind a number. You would be surprised how much qualitative data you can capture if you simply ask questions.

Not exploring high turnover or low engagement survey scores really equates to why measure them then. If they are being measured for the sake of saying they are measured, then just stop.

Take a Holistic Approach

The three things I mention above are not going to be the silver bullet for evaluating leadership, but they are a start that provides an opportunity to take a more holistic viewpoint when discussing talent.

Remember, it is the entire package not just a part of it.


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