Sales leaders versus sales managers and why it is important to you if you are in a sales leadership role. Many people loosely throw around the terms interchangeably but the differences are quite unique. If you are a sales manager, yet call yourself a leader, read the differences below and ask yourself if you have the leadership skills and traits that support your claim.
Now leadership skills can be learned and when put into practice, you can develop yourself into a leader. Many fall into the trap of thinking that the activities and title given to you by your company makes you an instant leader, but in reality you are a subordinate with direct reports that listens to you due to the authority that the company has given to you. Now here is the main difference between a manager and leader. Sales leaders have followers and influence those outside their official designated team(s) and being a follower is a voluntary action.
A perfect example is a sales manager who is tasked to achieve monthly sales goals and tells his/her subordinates to work hard, stay on task, do this, do that. While a sales leader, also has the same quotas and goals but develops a vision, goals and empowers the team to self motivate themselves towards the leader's vision. A perfect example could be the vision to be the #1 team, know for their strong teamwork and expertise in a chosen area. A sales leader empowers the team to take it upon themselves to do their best and do whats best for the team to reach the goals, and vision of the leader.
An informal leader is one who has the influence and traits to instill change in a process or in others. A title does not necessarily have to be given to this individual, but when you see the person in action, you know that the person's opinions, ideas and vision is sought after. Managers on the other hand will adopt the processes and changes that the leader created, and will drive those goals by managing the process, while a leader creates the process.
If you want to know who the true leader in the room, don't look at the title but look for the heads that turns and eyes towards and individual once a tough decision is needed to be made or an opinion is needed. Usually the informal leader will have eyes and head turned towards them. An appointed leader will get attention based upon their given powers, but the power is earned by a leader.
Leaders inspire others while managers direct and manage tasks. If you compare the actions taken by both types, managers will do according to what is directed and told versus leaders who also does this but thinks and inspire others to do things better.
When tasks are given out, leaders have volunteers who are willing to cooperate, while managers need people assigned to him/her to take on the task. A leader can inspire others to join forces with him/her because working for a leader is much more meaningful than just getting things done. An example would be, a manager who is tasked to ensure that the quality of X product is within specs, manages the task at hand, while a leader inspires his/her team to deliver high quality work for the benefit of the end user of product X.
Remember, a manager directs and tells people what to do and who they are, while leaders inspire people to be their best and what it takes to reach their potential. Also, every leader can be a manager but not every manager is a leader.
It is also important to remember that you can also be a great sales leader and develop the leadership skills within you. It does take knowledge and work, but leaders are not born, they are individuals who learn what it takes to inspire others, do whats right and to understand and learn from others who came before them. I recommend reading the following books to help you develop the leader within you. Please share your thoughts and add to the conversation by leaving a comment, thank you.