Let me not keep you waiting for the punch line: “Manage Processes, LEAD People”.

Do you know any producers who actually want to be managed?  Most of the producers I know, especially the Rain Makers,  don’t like being managed, in fact, they hate it.  Now don’t get the wrong idea, I’m surely not advocating to just let the producers run amok.  Forcing management upon personality types that despise it just isn’t likely to go well.  Leaving your producers to do as they please is likely even worse.   Most agencies fail trying to manage their producers when they should be leading them.  What a radical concept: substitute leadership in the place of management.  Remember four words: “Manage Processes, Lead People”.

Technical management is an absolute requirement.  Some examples of this are skills surrounding sales pipeline management, sales process management, time management, and even stress management.  We’ll discuss those management skills another day, this is about the producer, a person who has a name, dreams, fears, needs, issues, heart, and soul.  The typical producer is not looking to be managed, but to be led. They want a mentor, and advisor not a taskmaster.

What happens when we try to manage those who revile against the concept.  They rebel; they become rebellious like teenagers.  Continue to press the issue and something worse happens. The rebelling turns into adversarial relationships between producers and management.  When it reaches this stage, most hope is lost.  It’s a long road from here.

Let’s go down the leadership path instead.  Instead of pushing (managing) producers to the desired behaviors, let’s lead them.  Tapping into the great leadership wisdom of Kouzes and Posner and their landmark book, The Leadership Challenge, here are the key five leadership actions required for success.

  • Model the way: Lead by example. As a manager, don’t sell one way and then ask your producers to sell completely differently.
  • Inspire a shared vision: A sales career is so much more than just making a sale.  Inspire your team to do far more than just make sales and hit a sales goal.  Have a bigger purpose.
  • Challenge the Process: Be candid and encourage candor in return. Teams that don’t speak up, don’t perform well.  Invite challenge and fairly debate issues.
  • Enable others to act: Allow your producers the freedom to produce. There will be times they need you and times they don’t.  It’s okay if they make some mistakes along the way.  Let them grow.
  • Encourage the heart: People are always more important than numbers. Make sure your producers know how much you care.

The path to optimal producer performance is through leadership.  Take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What percent of the time do I manage the producers versus time spent leading?”  Let’s apply the old 80/20 rule.  Shoot for leading 80% of the time and managing less than 20%.  Do this and suddenly the need for more management will cease.  The rebellion will come to an end.  Instead of adversaries, your producers will be the type of advocates you been long looking for.  Remember the four words, “Manage Processes, Lead People” and your agency won’t fail your producers.