In 1999 I was a 25 year old, hard-charging “Do-It-All” Frontline Sales Manager at Akamai Technologies—who THOUGHT he had it all figured out.
Two decades, thousands of hours of research, and a lot of trial-and-error later—here are a few lessons I wish I would have known back then. . .
LESSON #1: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU ANYMORE
Submerge your ego and realize it’s not about you anymore. It’s about them—your team. Your success is now contingent on their success. Shift your focus from making YOUR number to helping your team members make THEIR number. Maniacally obsess about their success, growth, and development. Understand that their victories are your victories. Their failures are your failures. Don’t shirk the responsibility. Own it.
LESSON #2: BEWARE OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Your world has changed and so too, must you. Who you were before as an IC is very different than who you must become to succeed at the next level. Imposter Syndrome is a natural byproduct of this transformation. Don’t succumb to it by pretending to be someone you’re not. Be authentic. Be humble. Be coachable. Be you. It’s good enough. You were given this promotion for a reason. You got this.
LESSON #3 : CONNECT AND ALIGN WITH YOUR TEAM
Invest the time to get to know your people on a personal level—it will pay massive dividends down the road. Understand their backgrounds, their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears, desires, hopes, and dreams—their WHY. Infuse meaning and purpose into their work by connecting their WHY to your mission and your company’s mission. Tell them that you believe in them, care about them and genuinely have their best interests in mind—and mean it. Make it clear your job is to help them realize their potential.
LESSON #4: LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AS FAST AS YOU CAN
Don’t go into this new role thinking you have it all figured out because you don’t—and that’s ok. Swallow your pride and switch on beast-mode / learner-mode. Become a student of the game so you can one day master it. Get curious. Deconstruct what good looks like so you can coach, develop, and add value to your team. Learn how to create a high-performance environment. Learn how to implement a consistent operating rhythm/cadence. Learn how to systematize sales excellence. Learn how to help your team consistently crush it and achieve a level of success they never could have imagined. Learn how to truly become a world-class leader.