Two Faces of Authority – Part 1 of 3

“This group is yours, so manage them. Do what you want; just get results!”  The words of your boss keep echoing in your mind.  Just get results!  You certainly have the responsibility.  “…manage them.  Do what you want….”  You obviously have been given the authority.  It’s all in place; you have both responsibility and authority.  Now what?

Whether you have been brought in from outside the company, transferred from another position within the company, or risen through the ranks with your current sales force who were previously your peers, the realization is the same – to make the most of the management opportunity in front of you requires that you not only be a manager, but also a leader.

A successful leader rapidly learns that there are two types of authority at work here.  The first is positional authority, with the power that comes from your place in the hierarchy.  The entire company has seen the organizational chart.  The memo announcing your appointment was clear, giving you the position and the authority it carries.  But is it enough?  To simply manage your sales force, positional authority may very well be enough.  But to lead them, another authority is needed: credibility authority.  The act of simply reviewing sales data and calling activity, so much a part of the historic concept of sales management, must be coupled with a structured and active nurturing role if sales leaders are to be effective.  This nurturing role requires credibility – consistent, earned, and constantly challenged credibility.

The metamorphosis from positional authority to credibility authority is most clear in the parent-child relationship.  At first, children do as they are told because the parent is, or should be, in charge.  Later in life, the power of position fades, as the child becomes an adult.  If the parent has previously demonstrated wise decisions and an honorable life, then this will have built credibility authority, which becomes the basis for coaching opportunities as the young adult travels roads all too familiar to the parent.

The one departure from this analogy is for the sales manager who only yesterday was a peer to those now being led.  How do you build credibility authority in this situation, or any other sales management position for that matter?

Continued in Part 2

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