From “hard work ethic” to “results-driven” to being “hands on,” there are as many much-touted characteristics that are supposedly critical to good leadership as there are good leaders to recommend them. But as business models, social mores and generational preferences change, many of these traits become outdated and ineffectual.
The VAR Guy reached out to several channel leaders to see what characteristics associated with great leaders are overrated, even self-defeating. Do you agree? If there’s a trait we missed, tell us in the comments below.
If you've got to be the smartest guy in the room, odds are you're not willing to teach others—or worse, you're not willing to learn from others. Good leaders are intellectually smart, but they also have humility in terms of willingness to learn from others, to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. They create a culture where it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be bold and to take a challenge and try to make the most of it, but if it doesn't work out it's okay to learn from that mistake and move on to the next one.
- Rob Consoli, chief revenue officer at Liasion
Being a “hands-on” leader can be overrated. Although it is important to deeply understand your business and portfolio and make sure you communicate a clear vision, it is also important that you empower the people you are leading. You need to delegate and give people room to run. A leader is only as strong as the people he or she is leading and it is important to give them the opportunity to succeed.
- Bob Crissman, vice president of Global Channel Sales at Alfresco
Many job postings list “strategic planning” as a required skill for sales leaders. Strategic planning is based on traditional concepts of planning, decision-making and problem solving. But in large companies leaders often spend too much time planning and not enough time taking action! With the rate of innovation in the high-tech industry today, I prefer to encourage strategic thinking—breaking free from traditional organizational constraints, deviating from accepted beliefs and creating imaginative solutions. Strategic thinking is a rare commodity in today’s organizations and one that can set someone apart from his/her peers.
- Traci Pallas, vice president of channel sales at illusive networks
One example of a self-defeating trait is hyper-focus on perfection. Our world revolves around opportunities and risk. The more we can “de-risk” a situation, the more certainty we have when it comes to opportunity. Therefore, getting to all the data, all the answers, getting everything perfect, should theoretically yield a favorable outcome every time. There is an aphorism that states, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” While there are clearly situations where being perfect is critical, in most situations encouraging people to be thoughtful, yet take chances and achieve success—or at worst, “fail fast”—is a far better mantra. Ultimately, your team understands that failure is part of the process and taking action is better than being embroiled in analysis without action…or at least timely action.
- Mike Crest, CEO of Arcserve
I do have a strong work ethic. It's how I was raised. If I don't delegate and train the leaders under me to learn what excellence looks like, I'm working 12 to 14 hours a day and they are not benefiting. I'm not advancing their careers. This is another form of pride that we have that stands in the way of being good leaders.
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