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January 14, 2024

(3:35 Video) “Essential Sales Leadership Skills for Developing Team Accountability”

In this 3:35 video, Colleen and Steven stress the significance of assertiveness, self-awareness, and emotional management in coaching discussions, advising against defensive or aggressive reactions to feedback. They recommend employing self-awareness techniques such as identifying triggers.

Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen discuss the importance of assertiveness and emotion management in accountability conversations, emphasizing the need for managers to develop the skill of assertiveness, which involves stating what they need nicely. 

When managers give feedback, they may face emotional reactions from salespeople, which can lead to passive-aggressive or aggressive behavior. They suggest that self-awareness is crucial in these situations, as managers need to identify their triggers and respond appropriately. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Assertiveness is a crucial skill for managers to develop in accountability conversations.
  2. Emotional reactions from salespeople can trigger passive-aggressive or aggressive behavior in managers.
  3. Self-awareness is essential for managers to identify triggers and respond appropriately.
  4. Asking questions is more effective than telling salespeople what they did right or wrong during a call.

Summary Video Article:

Title: “Essential Sales Leadership Skills for Developing Team Accountability.”

Byline: By sales leadership and coaching experts Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen


As sales leaders, we often focus on developing hard skills such as product knowledge and closing techniques. However, one crucial soft skill often overlooked is assertiveness – the ability to state what you need respectfully and effectively. In a recent Sales Leadership Awakening podcast episode, Steven Rosen and Colleen Stanley explore the importance of assertiveness and self-awareness in sales leadership. 

The Pitfalls of Emotional Reactivity

When receiving feedback or engaging in crucial conversations, it’s common for individuals to have an emotional reaction. This can manifest as defensiveness or a change in facial expression. As a sales manager, effectively navigating these emotional triggers is crucial. Steven and Colleen discuss how emotional reactivity can lead to passive-aggressive or aggressive behaviors, hindering effective communication and accountability.

Colleen Stanley: “A salesperson might push back, which emotionally charges the manager. So then they either default to a passive-aggressive behavior where they go, let’s just talk about this in 10 weeks or 10 years. Or they get highly aggressive, and then we’re like, we need to be right.”

The Key Skill: Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the key skill sales leaders must develop to foster open and honest communication. It involves stating what you need respectfully and clearly. Sales leaders can effectively address issues, set expectations, and hold their team accountable by mastering assertiveness.

Colleen Stanley: “Assertiveness is the key skill, and emotion management also ties in with that.”

The Importance of Self-Awareness

To become more assertive, sales leaders must cultivate self-awareness. This involves recognizing our triggers and understanding why we may default to certain behaviors, such as telling instead of coaching. By reflecting on our emotional reactions, we can better manage them and respond more constructively.

Colleen Stanley: “Sit and think about when you got emotionally triggered and why you jump in and tell versus ask. So when you’re sitting there looking at how you debrief the call, you’ve got to be aware of what the rep said, did, or not say or do that caused me to go into professional telling mode versus coaching mode.”

Applying Sales Rep Debriefing Techniques

One effective way to develop self-awareness and practice assertiveness is by applying sales rep debriefing techniques to sales management. Instead of simply telling your team members what they did right or wrong, ask them questions that encourage self-reflection and critical thinking. This approach fosters a coaching mindset and empowers your team to take ownership of their performance.

Steven Rosen: “Ask them what they think, how they thought things went.”

The Visual Cue: The Flintstones’ Kazoo

Steven shared a clever visual cue to reinforce self-awareness and assertiveness – the Flintstones’ character Kazoo. Kazoo represents the internal dialogue that sales managers have when coaching their teams. The devil Kazoo urges managers to tell their team members what to do, while the angel Kazoo encourages them to ask questions and foster independent thinking. By visualizing this internal dialogue, sales leaders can catch themselves when they slip into telling mode and redirect their approach toward coaching.

Steven Rosen: “Am I telling people what to do when we’re having our self-talk, or am I asking?”


Developing self-awareness and assertiveness in sales leadership can profoundly impact individual and team performance. By mastering these skills, sales leaders can create a culture of open communication, accountability, and continuous improvement. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of engagement, productivity, and, ultimately, sales success.


Self-awareness and assertiveness are two critical skills that sales leaders must cultivate to excel in their roles. We can create a positive and empowering team environment by recognizing our emotional triggers, practicing assertiveness, and adopting a coaching mindset. As the sales landscape evolves, these skills will become increasingly valuable in driving success and achieving sustainable growth.

As we look to the future, it’s essential for sales leaders to prioritize the development of these soft skills alongside traditional hard skills. By investing in emotional intelligence and effective communication, sales leaders can navigate the complexities of the modern sales landscape and lead their teams to new heights of success.

Remember, the power of self-awareness and assertiveness lies in our ability to recognize and manage our emotions while fostering open and honest communication with our teams. Let’s embrace these skills and unlock our full potential as sales leaders.

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