Do The Right Thing – Are You Speaking Up Or Playing It Safe?

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: November 14, 2011

The recent drama at Penn State provokes many thoughts and emotions.  There are loyal fans supporting Joe Paterno and many years of contribution.  Others are in shock wondering how so many people did not do more to protect innocent children.   

While it’s easy for all of us to set back and judge, (and believe me I am on the shock side of the equation), it’s also a good time to reflect on how this set of events relates to sales and sales leadership?  Why should this sensitive issue be discussed and examined in the business world? 

Many of us are faced with the same decisions every day in our business lives.  While the decisions are not of this magnitude, it’s often the small decisions we make in life that lead to the bigger ones.  Sound like a stretch?  Let’s take a look.

  • How many of you know someone in your organization that is doing something not above board.   It can be anything from taking office supplies home for personal use or spending personal time on Facebook and phone calls during work hours. How about the salesperson that quotes the wrong price in order to close a deal, even though the transaction is not a profitable one for the company.   You know about it, what are you doing about it?  Are you playing it safe or doing the right thing?  
  • How many of you have ever worked in an organization where the top sales producer or sales manager didn’t espouse the core values of the organization?  There is a lot of rhetoric around core values such as respect and teamwork.  Posters are hung to remind everyone of the core values.  It all sounds great until the values are tested.  This is when your top producer is bringing in a lot of revenue and at the same time not honoring the core values.  Did you speak up to address the disconnect in actions and words?  Did you raise the red flag and say, “This person is not in alignment with our core values.  Why is he/she still employed?”   Not speaking up is essentially the same as saying you agree with what is going on.  You decide to play it safe versus do the right thing. 
  •  How many of you have witnessed a salesperson change once he starts achieving success and money?  He decides he doesn’t need to attend or contribute to the weekly sales meeting because he is too busy to help his other team members be successful?   The daily demeanor goes from confident to cocky.  Arrogance sets in along with the disease of “know-it-all-it is” and the core value of lifelong learning is out the window.     Sales mangers, have you approached this member on your team, held up the mirror and shared your concern about the image?  Will you fire this salesperson because they are not adhering to the core values set by your sales organization?  Let’s face it.  The tempting route, the easy route is to ignore and not speak up.  After all, you have a sales game to win. 

Let me be clear.  None of the above obviously even comes close to the Penn State tragedy.  However, look at where you or fellow members of your sales team aren’t speaking up and stating the truth about a peer’s behavior or the entire sales teams’ behavior. 

Fortunately, we work with a lot of sales teams that honor their company’s core values.  It’s one of the key reasons they are customers.  And there is a significant difference in how these teams go to market.  Honesty is valued, prima donna’s are fired and success is defined by both your financial success and character. 

Never lose who you are on your journey to becoming what you want to be.  Glory and fame are wonderful as long as you don’t sacrifice your character and ability to do the right thing.