The holidays always feel a little stressful for me. Never enough time to do your job while managing the day-to-day family life while finding time to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, entertain, and enjoy the ‘magic’.
As it turns out this year, we had the shortest possible holiday shopping season, in years! If you run the clock from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day, each year the holiday shopping season can last anywhere between 25 and 31 days. Thanksgiving being the fourth Thursday of November, it can run anywhere from November 22 to November 28.
This year, it’s November 28. So the shopping season is six days shorter than a year ago (and the shortest since 2013). Throw in a (delightful) Winter Concert (leading directly into a 2 week no school zone for the kiddos) and end of month to ink those final deals of the year (thankfully we’re on an end of January fiscal!) and you have a real time crunch on your hands. Sneaking in ways to find your holiday spirit is a MUST otherwise you’ll find yourself stuck in a snowy blizzard of to-do’s.
My holiday spirit finally arrived in the “(Saint) Nick” of time on December 21st. I splurged on tickets to the Holiday Pops matinee for my son and I that morning. With some generous friends (and sadly their obligatory holiday flu) we were also gifted 2 tickets to the New England Patriots football game at Gillette Stadium, later that afternoon.
All dressed up in our holiday attire, Christian and I enjoyed the morning together immensely. We followed along to the musical interpretation of the Polar Express and were singing along at the top of our lungs with each and every musical ensemble that followed. We were smiling from ear to ear. And with a visit from Santa Clause mid performance…well, that was enough to get anyone in the holiday spirit!
Row 6! And a clear line of sight to the second longest-tenured conductor of the Boston Pops, the legendary Keith Lockhart. All the while, I couldn’t help but wonder the precise role of a conductor while I witnessed Lockhart’s hands furiously waving in the air and the beads of sweat running down his face during the entire 90 minute performance.
Now off to Gillette Stadium to see the Patriots. The energy from the field was palpable and despite the energy from the crowds, the Patriots trailed most of the game. Row 14! Which also meant I had a straight line of vision to the players and the intensity from the coach as he interacted with his players. The Patriots did earn their 11th consecutive AFC East crown that Saturday with a dramatic 24-17 win over the Bills in the final quarter. And, for the second time that day, I couldn’t help but wonder about the coach and their ability to rally a team in the face of adversity… and come out victorious!
This got me thinking about the role of sales managers, leaders, coaches and accountability partners in general. If I’m being honest, the only time I kept an honest food journal was when I had a coach review my food log. When I was training for my half marathon I joined a running group that kept me motivated and held me accountable. When I’m at CrossFit, I have a coach cheering me on enthusiastically and pushing me through my WOD (Workout Of The Day), every day. And every time I have ever crushed my sales quota, I’ve had a manager.
Is having a good leader the secret ingredient to success? Is it the difference between winning and losing? What even is a good leader? Well, here are the descriptions of the individual jobs I had been thinking about earlier in the day –
- Conductor: The primary responsibility of the conductor is to take a closer look at their connection to their players and listen out for the bigger picture. They unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble, and control the interpretation and pacing of the music.
- Sport Coach: Sports coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential. They are responsible for training athletes in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills and by providing encouragement.
- Sales Manager: Sales managers direct the team’s focus, set goals, look at data, motivate and help create training opportunities.
And I pulled out a couple of themes… Connection. Encouragement. Motivation.
Turns out these similar themes are all at the core of all human behavior – the ability to understand what makes people tick. What science has already found is that positive emotions (how work and culture make employees feel) are at the root of human motivation.
In fact, we are wired for it.
Therefore, sales managers, leaders, conductors, sports coaches, and accountability partners in general must acquire the knowledge of what truly inspires loyal human beings to enthusiastically perform at a high level. At work, your sales manager is an important part of YOUR equation. And, it is important to have a connection with this individual, as it will be one of the single most important determining factors of success in your role. (Similarly -after what was some furious Google’ing when I got home- it turns flamboyant conductors and stoic football coaches are also the single most important part of their winning teams, too.)
What other traits and/or characteristics make a good manager? Why do some people win and some people lose? Is your success a direct result of your environment and your manager?
Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on the subject.