Direct Sales Leadership-How to Relate to your struggling Team Members & Leaders
I talk to my leaders a lot about how our businesses are like a boat. My job as the leader is to keep them on the boat. I do my best to give them trainings, skills and tools to succeed on the boat where we are all together, working our businesses. We talk a lot about how you can’t drag people onto the boat. People join everyday who get on the boat and then immediately jump overboard. We react and want to send out all the rescue efforts to find the one who jumped, sometimes forgetting about the people we still have on the boat.
Recently I have had a couple leaders who are struggling in various ways in their business.
They know that I am here for them and our foundational relationship is strong. But that does not mean that it’s any easier for me to have them out of the boat, nor is it any easier on them to feel like they cannot climb back into the boat. It’s tough on both sides. I could easily find myself frustrated, when I just want them in the dang boat. And they can be extremely discouraged being outside of the boat and stop swimming. Instead we talked directly to one another and listened.
I know their frustration does not lie with ME. I do not take their frustration personally. Nor do I take responsibility to get them back in the boat.
However, I can LISTEN and do my best to understand how it feels outside the boat, in the choppy water. They can find themselves annoyed with my ever positive disposition, attempts at advice, encouragement and sporadic attempts to help their boats. Or they can accept my good intentions and allow me to help them and accept my attempts with appreciation instead of the easier route, annoyance.
I stumbled across this article and despite the fact it has nothing to do with direct sales, it was the perfect analogy to how my leaders were feeling and how I can choose to react as their leader.
I have rewritten a portion, not to rip off the work but to help leaders understand how their struggling team members feel. May we all do a better job of having the towels in the dryer.
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Credit to Author, Rosemary Card
“I’ve been thinking a lot about that boat and that water lately. Obviously, when you’re in a boat the goal is to stay dry. But when a storm is brewing, some of us are going to get smacked in the face with waves we never saw coming. Some may just catch a cool mist on their face while others will get drenched from head to toe. At the very least, there is a good chance that everyone is going to get seasick at some point and find themselves holding on to the edge.
Many will be completely knocked off the boat and have to work to crawl back on. Climbing back in the boat can be a slow process. A process that involves that awkward predicament where you’re very much exposed to the wind and waves but also doing your best to cling to the side of the boat . . . which honestly is really a hard place to hold on to where you don’t feel secure. To those on the deck, it may look like you are barely trying because you only have the energy to make progress up the side between wave beatings. Even then, when you make it up the side exhausted and are drying out on the deck you can get slammed once, twice, or seven times more.
This process is guaranteed to be difficult and can take a lifetime. When people are fighting the waves and doing their best to hold, one of the last things they need is for those on the boat to comment on how wet they are.”
(EDITED FOR MY DS PEEPS)
When people are doing their best to show up to work and work their business let’s not focus on what makes them different. Let’s focus on how hard they are trying and how much we love them, not caring how we appear to those on the deck.
“Rather than being concerned about the puddle they may make on the deck, let’s be the ones reaching over the edge and pulling people up. Maybe we’ve climbed that path before and can give them some pointers on good footholds to use. Let’s take time and listen to what they learned in the process rather than focusing on what they missed. Because honestly, any of us could be the next one knocked off the edge, and we’re all going to want someone standing at the top with a warm towel when we make it back into the boat. (P.S. If you’ve never put your towel in the dryer while you’re in the shower so it is hot when you get out, you haven’t lived.)
One last note. Some people choose to get off the boat and swim or to get in a different boat. They too deserve our continued loved and support.”