Anyone in networking marketing, or direct sales, or any other organization has attended a seminar, probably now a webinar that promised to teach the “secret” to success in our field.
Many well-intentioned people speak and train on tactics, strategies, and approaches to being successful. The reality is that the #1 success secret is developing yourself to be the best leader you can be. The fact is that all leaders must lead themselves first before they can lead a team.
Your personal leadership development is the #1 factor in your success because it directs how you choose to do your business, relationships, and your whole life.
Hall of Fame Golfer Jack Nickolas, in an interview with John Maxwell during the Mondays with Maxwell Series ( A free resource), explained the process of self-leadership in his career in professional golf.”
You have to be aware and manage yourself during a tournament.
The tournament takes care of itself”.This applies to your development as a successful network marketer or direct salesperson. When you lead yourself well, you are successful. When you are successful, you attract clients and potential team members who want to join you and your business.
Leadership Expert John Maxwell Further notes that “everything rises and falls on leadership. “Most people readily believe this is true and have certainly seen the “Good, Bad, and Ugly, “as Clint Eastwood said of leadership over the last 15 months. Few people, however, would see themselves as leaders. This is sad because not embracing oneself as a leader can put a cap on your potential in all areas of your life.
What causes us to not actively intentionally work on being the best leader we can be.
There are three reasons we don’t view ourselves as leaders. The first reason is that leadership has been mystified and mythologized, and most of us don’t see that we are “real “leaders. The second reason is we are unclear about what leadership means. The third reason is a lack of clarity about leadership skills a person can learn to be an authentic leader. This article will expose and debunk the five significant leadership myths, provide some thoughts on defining what leadership is for you, and show some specific skills to learn, practice and focus on to L.E.A.D. authentically.
Myths are compelling as they have some past “truth” and the emotional connection of avoiding uncomfortable thoughts. Myths are especially crippling to our development as they become “limiting beliefs.” Consider, for example, when you started in network marketing and direct sales. Was one of your first responses, “I can’t sell anything or recruit anyone.” Your response was most likely fueled by your past beliefs about salespeople or recruiters. Remember how much relief and how freeing it was to realize you offered services and positions to enhance people’s lives, not to pressure them. In that process, you exposed a myth and embraced a different view of your services and offerings.
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often, we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
[Commencement Address at Yale University, June 11, 1962]”
There are several myths about leadership that are pervasive today and inhibit people’s development. Here are five significant myths about leadership and the real story;
1.Some people are born leaders.
Kosuzes and Posner, in Learning Leadership, respond that this myth is partly true. All leaders, like all of us, are born! Leadership really is not an innate gift. It is a choice to intentionally commit to the inside-outside development of a skill set to lead oneself and then learn to lead others.
2.Leadership is given based on rank, title, or position.
Leadership is not given nor assigned by title.
We have recently celebrated and recognized those in our military who have sacrificed for our freedoms, Memorial Day. The U.S. military intentionally teaches leadership to all levels of soldiers because they understand that any soldier, marine, airman, or sailor will choose to lead based on the set of circumstances in a situation.
3. Leadership is about having all answers and being the smartest, loudest, or best person in the room.
Leaders who see their job as looking superior and never seeking to learn are destined to fail.
Most leadership studies stress today in a post-pandemic world that leaders must ask more, talk less, listen more to learn from diverse populations to lead more effectively. Leaders who know all the answers end up with followers who leave them or have nothing to say.
4.Leadership is a gift or a reward for best sales, tenure, or being friends with the last boss.
This myth can be insidious because there is a grain of truth.
Many titled leadership positions in network marketing or direct sales require sales and sharing or production success to advance. The successful long-term leader in any field realizes the title, status; the free trip is not automatic. It must be re-earned every year. They understand and accept that leadership is a choice to do hard work and be responsible for others. They also realize this is an ongoing process of self-development and intentional development of those you lead.
5.Leadership is not about making people do things because of the leader’s power, stature, or status.
Leaders in all sectors succeed when they intentionally build relationships, collaborate, and encourage others to grow.
This is especially the case in network marketing and direct sales as most people you lead and the customers you work with are volunteers. They work with you because they “know, like, and trust” you. John Maxwell says it well to be a leader is to influence the people you lead and customers you serve. They follow and patronize your business by their choice.
Knowing these myths, how then do we define leadership?
Here are three of my personal favorite definitions you can review and revise to be your best definition of leadership for you to live by and model for all you interact with
John Quincy Adams, our 6th President of the United States, gives us the best overall definition of leadership in the 1830s’. “If your actions inspire people to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
This really means we all can be leaders. We must act to develop ourselves first and then lead others by our actions and inspiration.
Mark Miller, Vice President of leadership development at Chick Fil A has one of the most succinct definitions
“Leaders do two things “they build people up, and they get things done.”
Leaders develop their skills and model and teach them to their followers and produce results through teamwork, not me work
John Maxwell has the most straightforward definition; “Leadership is influence.”
You can’t make people do things well. You can build relationships, listen, ask and learn to build a team of leaders.
Looking at those three definitions which works the best for you. Maybe a combination. Note the consistent themes, actions, do more, inspiration and influence, building people up, and accomplishments. These are the marks of an authentic leader. Some specif skills can be seen in the acronym L.E.A.D.
L. Listen, learn, and lead listening is a crucial skill to learn.
Present listening is the most respectful gift you can give anyone follower or customer (or community or family member). Learning is, as John Kenedy said, is indispensable to leadership.
E. Equip. Intentionally seek to make the lives of the people you lead better.
Encourage their growth and success. Especially working with volunteers as many of you in network marketing or direct sales know their success will be your success. That success will be in sales or sharing but most notably in the long term, lifetime relationships
A. Authentically be present and committed to your choice and your responsibility to lead.
A true leader is a servant leader who brings their best self to their endeavors to “build people up, and they get things done.”
D. Dignify all you lead and serve.
Intentionally seeking to add value to others will enhance their life and yours. The Golden Rule is still the best guide in any culture.
We all can be the leaders we would choose to follow. In truth, today, there is a leadership gap. Ken Blanchard, a worldwide leadership expert, often says we need more serving leaders and less self-serving leaders. As C.S.Lewis wrote, we need leaders who don’t think less of themselves. They think more of others”. Now is your time to lead.
Be the best be the leader you were meant to be, and we so much need.