Are You Undervaluing Courage?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Just over 25% of sales managers believe that their reps must be courageous to succeed in their field. Are you undervaluing courage when it comes to coaching your reps? You could be. If you’ve recently moved from being a top sales rep into a role that includes managing others, you’ll need courage to successfully lead. Without that quality, say Gallup researchers, you’ll have trouble developing your reps so they can reach their goals.

Avoid Blaming Others

Too many managers operate with an ‘us versus them’ mentality when things aren’t going well. Leaders who lack courage or effective tools to motivate their team members believe that blaming someone else reduces their accountability. Leaders have long used this strategy to influence their followers. Historically, followers were more likely to be loyal to leaders when they felt an enemy was about to besiege them.

In the modern corporation, some leaders will agree with their team members about a difficult prospect or client being the enemy. But too often, they cast an internal group as the enemy. It might be the marketing department on the next floor or the other sales department in the organization — the one that is selling the legacy system. This attitude can fracture a corporate culture and lead to departmental silos. 

Remember to Manage Up as Well as Down

One reason managers blame someone else for their troubles is because they “may feel like their job is impossible — trying to please the people above them and below them at the same time,” say Gallup researchers. The desire to please stems from managers who confuse being liked with being effective. Usually, a manager can’t be both.

Managers also don’t want to appear troublesome to senior leaders who have promoted them. Instead of standing up for their team, they’ll keep accepting assignments. Despite being overworked, they’ll try to convince themselves and their team members that they can do it all by working more efficiently. A lower-​courage manager won’t say no. A high-​courage manager will.

If you find yourself in this situation, use logic to boost your courage. When a company leader asks you to take on more work, calmly explain that everyone on the team is working to capacity. Ask your senior leaders to help you prioritize tasks. That attitude shows you’re a team player and that you’re committed to the success of the organization. And it also shows your team members that you have their backs.

Are You Undervaluing Courage?

Managers also need to show a united front when it comes to organizational policy. You may personally disagree with how the senior leadership makes bonus awards at year-​end, but keep your opinion private. If you badmouth someone higher up in the organization, you weaken the culture. Be courageous if you have an issue with an organizational policy and find a way to speak to leadership, productively.

Work with your leaders and help them identify goals that everyone in the organization can work together to achieve. When you’re courageous, everyone wins.