Here are four must-have leadership qualities

Pustelak-Lisa-174-2By Lisa Pustelak, RCDA Senior Consultant

Great sales or customer service representatives don’t necessarily become great leaders. And not all leaders have inherent customer service or sales skills if they have not grown and been promoted organically from handling phone calls as a representative.

Many of the leaders we work with were promoted because they had great sales or service metrics, not because they demonstrated signs of good leadership skills.

Unfortunately, without proper training and support most of these leaders will not be successful. There are those few fortunate enough to have some one mentor them or are highly self-motivated and can in fact succeed. However, most who are promoted are thrown to the wolves and expected to figure out how to make it work. They will either be forced out for lack of performance or give up from the severe level of frustration they experience.

Whether you are a superstar who just got promoted or you are the one doing the promoting, here are four must-have leadership qualities to develop:

1. Get to know your team. One size does not fit all when it comes to motivation. You must talk to your team members, learn about them, and understand what motivates them, what’s important to them, what they like and what they dislike. Have a conversation with them regularly. Build rapport with your team members just like you would a customer. Actually, they are your customers.

A compliment is another great way to engage your team. It can be catching them doing something right, or it can be something simple like complimenting their outfit today. For some of you, this may not come naturally or easily for you. Make sure that no matter what you are complimenting that it is a genuine compliment. Otherwise, it will hurt you more than it will help you.

2. Engage with your team. Sitting at your desk all day is not a quality of a good leader. One of the most effective tactics we coach to is something called a “quick lap,” which is essentially a quick check in and a follow-up on coaching with your team several times a day. Technology is a wonderful thing. However, in my experience, coaching by instant message is not nearly as effective as being side by side with a representative actually having a conversation.

3. Ask don’t tell. Using the Socratic method for coaching is critical. We all learn in different ways, and most of us don’t respond positively to being told what to do. However, if it’s our idea and we self-identify what we need to change, it’s a whole new ball game. Questions like, “What went well on that call?” and “What could you have done differently?” can open up very healthy conversations. At the end of the day, everything we do is all about the conversation! So the next time you catch yourself telling a team member what to do differently, stop yourself and ask them what they think they could have done differently.

4. Listen. Steven Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” As you learn to ask more questions, make sure you listen to the answers. Great leaders listen to their team to be able to not only understand where they are coming from but also to decide how you can best help them improve. Every person you come in contact with deserves your full attention, whether it’s for a few seconds, minutes or hours. In this world of multi-tasking, when it comes to listening, we need to focus on just listening at that moment. “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” (M. Scott Peck)

There are massive amounts of information available on leadership. These four qualities are just a starting point. The only person who can control what kind of leader you will be is you. You can start today by choosing to begin to incorporate the qualities above into your leadership style.

For more information on RCDA and how we can help ensure your leaders are successful, go to