How to Be a Great Boss: 6 Tips to Be an Effective Sales Leader

Written by Rob Malec

Any way you slice it, being a business owner is tough. The responsibilities and stress of keeping the ship on course and meeting payroll every week can be daunting. Doing this while maintaining an even keel and being an effective leader is no small feat. When it comes to how to be a great boss, there’s no big secret. But there are a few simple mindset tips to follow to help you stay on track…

6 Tips From a Fractional VP of Sales to Help You Be a More Effective Sales Leader


How to Be a Great Boss Tip #1: Keep Your Ego in Check

A healthy ego is required for long-term business success. It takes considerable self-confidence to transform an idea into a business and then nurture it in a way that leads to sustainable growth. However, bad things start to happen when this ego morphs into the realm of an “I am the boss, dammit!” approach.

When your ego is unchecked, staff become deferential and work to serve your ego more than the business or its customers. Team morale drops. At best, people feel uneasy, and at worst, they feel fearful.

I have dealt with business owners like this and have experienced first-hand the profound negative effects on staff when the boss’s ego runs loose. A good long look in the mirror is the simple test for business owners to determine where their ego falls on the continuum between self-confidence and “I am the boss, dammit!” exclamation.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #2: Communication is Key…But the Right Amount at the Right Time

It is understood that there are many aspects of running a business that would not be appropriate to share with all staff (mergers, acquisitions, potential staff layoffs, new product launches, opening of new markets and the like are examples that come to mind).

However, I’ve experienced business owners who take the approach of leaving their people totally in the dark. In these situations, it’s very difficult for them to understand what the guardrails are for exercising their discretion as they execute on their duties and tasks each day.

I have observed business owners who took the opposite approach of telling staff too much, too early.  This left staff feeling very uneasy about the future – to the point of causing some of the top performers to leave the company.

To be an effective leader, you should build a thoughtful communication plan that lets your staff know what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #3: Provide the Right Tools to Your Team

When asking a team to perform, the leader’s job is to provide the tools necessary. A carpenter without a hammer is hard-pressed to be productive. Similarly, a salesperson without a well-configured CRM is equally as hard-pressed to be productive.

Being thoughtful and including your team in conversations about what tools are required will exponentially increase job role efficiency and effectiveness. This does not mean that the tools need to be elaborate or expensive. On the contrary, frequently surveying the landscape of options and choosing sales tools that will meet the needs of the team is more effective than buying the “biggest and best” and presuming it will cure all ills.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #4: Pay Your People What They Deserve

When speaking with business owners who experience high staff turnover, a common thread I have noticed is that they pay their people a salary that is below the market rate. Paying your people well does not mean overpaying.

Survey the market and be on par with or a little bit above the going rate for your various staff positions. If you need a way to fund pay increases, raise your prices. When it comes to employees, you get what you pay for and paying at or a bit above market rate will help you retain good performers. Of course, pay is not the only piece of the puzzle when it comes to retaining your top sales performers. But it is an important one and holding on to your top performers will save you money in the long haul.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #5: Pay Your People on Time

In my work as a Fractional VP of Sales, I’ve seen more than a few companies that fail to pay out employee bonuses and commissions on time. Nothing annoys employees more than being paid late. The most effective business owners I have met have bonus programs that are simple to assess and affordable to implement. They are calculated and paid out on time, every time. Meeting this commitment to your staff is an overt way to say, “I value your contribution”.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #6: Show Your Appreciation

I’ve never met anyone who has said, “I wish my boss would stop telling me what a great job I am doing!”. Showing gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis as you walk down the hall is a simple way for a business owner to spread the love and have employees know that they are valued. Institutionalizing this in reward and recognition programs is a more formal way to ensure that staff know the company sees their contributions and appreciates them.

There is a great deal of nuance to being an effective leader. I have mentored many executives to help them navigate the path to being effective leaders. If you have a leadership challenge you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

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