Effective leaders are also strong salespeople

First published March 2, 2012

Published by The Nashville Business Journal

On your first job interview you became a salesperson — for yourself. Your resume is your personal sales brochure. Every interview question is an opportunity to sell yourself.

From the time you had your first bright idea at work and pushed it forward, you were selling what you believed in. When you submitted your big project report you sold to your boss all the work that you and your team accomplished.

Salesmanship remains a key component of leadership. For the first 12 years of my career I was a line manager, giving orders and often selling objectives to my team. But I was the boss. Then I was given the role of personnel director, a position with a lot of responsibility but only a tiny staff. Now I was in a position where I had to use my sales skills to convince managers and executives about all the issues of managing people.

Just as I convinced my leaders of personnel needs, successfully completing the business mission means convincing, persuading and selling your team on the direction you have set. The more successfully you sell your plan, the more committed your team will be, which in turn will yield the best possible results.

Selling the vision of a business unit is a common and crucial talent of successful executives. No matter where you are in your career it is never too late to work on building stronger sales skills.

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