Find the top ranking distributors or entrepreneurs who say they’ve made zero leadership mistakes and I’ll say you’ve found either a liar or a fool.
The truth is, leadership isn’t for the faint of heart.
In fact I read a great book on servanthood and the path to influence written by Miles Anthony Smith. The title really holds nothing back.
The book is called “Leadership Sucks.”
Still makes me chuckle.
But in all of the chaos and responsibility and messiness, leadership is also beautiful and unequivocally one of the greatest tests that any Network Marketing distributor or high level manager will face.
It’s inside of the transformation from a baby leader to a masterful influencer that many people get stuck.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the privilege (and it is a privilege) to lead teams of tens of thousands of people. When I recall my first “season” of high level leading, I look back and want to cringe.
I was awful.
I was the worst (okay maybe not, but pretty stinkin’ bad).
And I made a lot of mistakes.
I wanted to share with you in depth on the 3 Biggest Leadership Mistakes I made while driving an organization to over $100,000,000 in revenue in a few short years.
Leadership Mistake #1 – Pulling Rank
By now, nearly everyone has quoted the famous Maya Angelou “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Despite spending 4.5 years in a Relationship Marketing-focused company. This principle seemed to elude me.
One of the worst things about success = is a little bit. And when you go from zero to top earner in less than a year… let’s just say it’s easy to believe you’re own press.
Now before you go ahead and write me off as a giant headed egomaniac, I assure you… I wasn’t a complete beast.
But I definitely felt that my rank carried enough clout that it didn’t matter about anything else.
‘You should listen to me.’
‘You’re crazy not to a follow in my foot steps.’
‘I’m Rachel Mother-freakin’ Jackson.’
Okay, I never said those things aloud.
Buuuuut… I guarantee they swirled around my noggin from time to time.
And it makes sense in a way, because if meet somebody who’s making $1 million USD a month, and I’m making, say, $1 million a year… clearly I should listen to them.
But the “stack” isn’t the only thing that matters.
I bulldozed people in this season because I felt “it was my way or the highway” and I was suffering from massive ‘Golden Child’ syndrome. Everything I touched seemed to flourish. That is, until it didn’t.
Momentum faded. Leaders left. Our organization was attacked left and right.
And it was only then that I realized nobody gave a crap about my check or my rank, if they didn’t know that I cared for them.
And the truth was, I honestly did care.
But I put so much weight on my results, I neglected to focus on the bonds between me and my team. And suffered long and hard because of it.
Trust me when I say, your rank may get you in the door, on the phone call, in the room. But it’s your character that will dictate what happens next.
Leadership Mistake #2 – Not Setting Proper Expectations
This one is still one I am working hard at achieving everyday. I read a great quote by William Shakespare who said “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” I’d like to amend that if I may. RJ style:
“Improperly set expectations is the root of all heartache.”
How often is the true for us, my friend?
How many marital spats could have been avoided if proper expectations had been set?
How many relationships could have been saved?
How many jobs or businesses could have flourished if the right assignments had been set from the get go?
I had an amazing opportunity to have private breakfast with my mentor John C Maxwell. John had just been announced by Inc 100 as the Foremost Leadership Expert of our days. We had a chance to talk about a painful leadership dilemma I was facing at that moment with two my business partners.
I laid out the situation and explained how I had done EVERYTHING for these leaders. I had built their businesses. I had invested $$$$$ into their teams. I had flown to their markets and help support their organization. And after years of this, growing weary – I decided to pull away and start focusing on other organizations.
When their businesses started to massively suffer (without the intense fueling of my new volume and payouts each month), I did my best to coach them to “step up” and get back into “phase one” of building their business.
(You can imagine how this advice was received.) 🙂
In a flash, I went from angel to devil in their eyes. They were scornful, mad, almost toddlerish tantrums and silent treatments.
And there I was, clueless.
“How could they be mad at me?”
John responded, as he often did, “You gave them a ride and now the ride stopped. So they are looking around and wondering, Hey why did the ride stop?”
It hit me with a ton of bricks. He went on to explain we had NEVER properly set the expectation of a mentor/mentee relationship.
The fact was: I had given them a winning lottery ticket, and when the cash (fun) ran out, they were upset the good times were over.
I learned that day, that I couldn’t force my leadership on anyone. Nor could I force anyone into leadership.
Leadership Mistake #3 – Being Skill Focused, Instead of People Focused
So many new (and veteran leaders) erroneously believe that by just becoming a top producer that that will exalt them to the leadership titles.
Make no mistake my friends:
There are ranks.
And there are leaders.
One can be at a high rank based on grit, might, fortitude and skill. While at the same time lacking the 5 E’s of Leadership (that I breakdown in my course Magnetic Leadership) or completely miss out the human aspect of team building.
But truly Magnetic Leaders realize the most important commodity of their tribe isn’t the sales goals, the quotas, the systems or even their own personal production (although a VERY important part of building Moral Authority)… they realize their #1 greatest asset it:
You guessed it: people.
My uncle runs a medium size tech conglomerate in Seattle but before that he worked as a C-level executive at Microsoft.
When I told him I joined Network Marketing – over a decade ago – he gave me some wise advice: “Learn more about your industry then you do about your company. Focus there!” Well… as we know, direct sales is all about people.
It took me many years to shave off the nasty crusty edges of my ego to be others-focused. But the transformation has been remarkable.
Not only has my emotional intelligence sky rocketed, but the culture on my team (being now lead by a love-based leader) is night and day.
Don’t just chase the skill. Chase the understanding of people. Chase to know the desires of your team. Chase the transformation of your personality to become more palatable.
And you my friend will be on your way to the top 1% of Magnetic Leadership.
I hope this message helped you today. I want to encourage you that even though it’s practically inevitable to make leadership mistakes like these, if you focus on loving people and being faithful with the tribe you’ve been given, God will continue to elevate your influence.
The next several years has the potential to take you to new heights you couldn’t possibly imagine. When I look at the team and culture we have built now I couldn’t be more proud of what we have created.
And looking back all of those missteps and experiences allow me to mentor at a much higher level with grace, love, understanding, and wisdom.
To Your Success,