As parents, have you ever advised your children to be better listeners and talk less? Familiar proverbs such as "You can't learn while you're talking," or "You have one mouth and two ears for a reason" underscore the importance of listening. One of our most valuable tools in communication is, indeed, effective listening. In our Sales Mastery class, we consistently emphasize to our OOH sales teams the necessity of posing meaningful questions to comprehend our client's needs fully. This understanding allows us to serve them more effectively.
As a leader, do you follow the advice you give others? Do you practice the art of listening more than speaking? Are you adept at asking insightful questions to understand fully before offering guidance? When a team member seeks advice on a specific issue or problem-solving strategy, do you provide ready-made solutions? Or, do you engage them in thoughtful questioning to guide them through the problem-solving process, helping them establish the optimal action plan? Essentially, do you dictate instructions or nurture their critical thinking skills? Managers give orders, while leaders foster a sense of belief in their teams, encouraging them to excel beyond their perceived capabilities.
Many leaders in the OOH industry, perhaps unknowingly, link their self-worth and ego gratification to their indispensability within the organization. This phenomenon is often termed the "Superman Syndrome," an overwhelming urge to be universally present and always saving the day. This leadership approach, however, risks fostering a culture of "learned helplessness" within the organization. While not usually a conscious choice, it can significantly slow the professional growth of team members.
We prefer viewing owners and senior executives as coaches. They select the team, teach the basics, guide them to recognize the best strategies at the right time, train them on skillful execution, and foster their growth into self-sufficient individuals. The coach's role isn't to play the game but to position each player for success.
As a leader, I need to embrace a "slow down to speed up" approach. I must invest time to fully listen to my team, understanding their concerns, queries, and all motivations. What are they trying to communicate? What are they asking me? Why are they conveying or asking this? How can I transform this into a teachable moment for them? Can I pose questions that allow them to discover their own solutions to the situations they're facing? Am I investing in my team's professional growth and business intelligence, or merely capitalizing on their current skills?
We believe that early investment in active listening and development will prevent the need for continuous crisis intervention, aligning with Emerson's law: "To get more, give more." If you aspire to have a high-performing, self-reliant team, intentional listening and development are imperative. Otherwise, you risk perpetuating a cycle of constant intervention, forever echoing, "Up, up, and away. This is a job for Superman."
Need help with sales skills or coaching to take your out of home company to the next level. Learn more about OOH Sales Mastery at oohmastery.com or Contact Dan Nausley at firstname.lastname@example.org, 423.702.5579.
Lisa & Dan Nausley of Sandler Chattanooga have developed the OOH Sales Mastery Program after more than a decade of training/coaching scores of OOH Operators across the country in sales, leadership, and executive coaching.