Sales management: benefits of situational leadership | Sunday Observer

Sales management: benefits of situational leadership

28 November, 2021

Situational leadership is an adaptive leadership style that encourages leaders to assess their sales team members, work out the variables in their work environment and choose the best model to lead them to derive performance. The model is relationship-oriented and predominantly based on the leader’s directives on the readiness and ability of his team members. Hence, for the model to work out successfully, the leader must establish an effective relationship with the team.

In my near forty-year career in sales, I have discovered that the situational leadership style works better than any other due to the availability of the flexibility to adapt to anything constructive for the organisation. By managing a situation with the best-suited solutions for a team of subordinates who possess varied skills and behaviours, the situational leaders not only increase productivity but also beat ambiguities and uncertainties.

Situational leaders, fortified with four styles: direct, coach, support, and delegate have the capacity and ability to evaluate any situation, positive or negative, from different perspectives. They can deal with any issue at hand efficiently.

A sales manager should have the skill to assess each member of the team and determine which leadership style to be used based on their personalities, experiences, skill levels, and educational levels. For example, in a single team, when the sales manager has to deal with inexperienced members or trainees, the approach can be more autocratic and directive. This means that inexperienced team members have to be nurtured in the right direction.

In contrast, when dealing with competent and experienced members of the same team, the manager has to delegate to draw the best performance as they invariably appreciate the freedom with minimal supervision and reasonable direction from the leader.

Collaboration and teamwork

While the flexible approach is a key benefit, situational leadership also creates an opportunity for collaboration in an organisation. The interaction between the team members is more effective when the leader uses situational leadership. It is a known fact that a lack of team spirit can steer a sales team to failure.

The mere presence of collaboration and teamwork increases the productivity and performance of a sales force due to the enhanced collective engagement. This approach influences the sales team to optimise the achievement in sales performance. Therefore, a good sales manager gets everyone on the same page and constantly pinpoints each member’s tasks and goals by having regular team meetings.

Situational leaders encourage adaptability to match past, present, and future situations. The sales manager should manage different workplace circumstances. The sales manager must be able to approach the situation at hand by assessing the impact of his solution, when a challenging situation emerges. Without disregarding the past or present circumstances, the sales manager should make sure that the same issue does not recur.

Human benefits

Situational leadership provides human benefits. By being directive and supportive, situational leadership enhances a good working environment in an organisation. Co-existence is encouraged due to the augmentation of team spirit and collaboration.

Good situational leaders are good communicators who understand the emotions of their team members and connect deeply with them frequently on their day-to-day affairs at work. They even engage themselves in personal matters, if required, to help. Being charismatic can be a trap when managing a habitually aggressive sales team, yet supporting the team members in personal concerns can tremendously enhance mutual trust.

With a good understanding and a measurement of the team members’ maturity, the sales manager can clearly define the types of support each person needs to improve. Training requirements, educational backup, or soft skills development planning can be easy when the leader is aware of the personal traits and general thinking patterns of the team members. Hence, situational leadership increases human benefits and helps manage the team more effectively.

Direction and guidance

The situational leadership approach in sales management encourages direction and guidance for the team members. By adapting to this leadership style, the sales manager gets a better opportunity to determine the right amount of coaching, training, or supervision each person requires. The leader can provide consistent guidance through feedback on progress against sales goals. Even experienced veterans time and again reach out for guidance on selling from their leaders.

Applying the situational leadership approach can increase work productivity and enhance sales performance. The flexibility offered by the leadership style helps identify the areas of business processes that can, in turn, help plan operational strategies. A good leader works closely with the team to set sales goals, timelines for overall achievements, confront competition, and future planning.

Trustful relationship

Regardless of the size of the sales team, when leaders are in relentless communication with their teams, the team members receive continuous support. Any salesman cherishes this and admires the assistance of the leader. Hence, they become more committed to the task and become more trustful in the leader’s relationship. This can immensely help productivity.

Employee motivation is one of the most vital elements in the success of a business organisation. The level of commitment, drive, and energy of the sales team members contribute immensely to the overall growth of an organisation. The situational leadership approach works best in motivating the sales team by applying work delegations that show the amount of trust placed by the leader on each team member.

It is a fact that motivated teams produce better results in terms of productivity and performance. Also, motivated employees are more creative and innovative who can contribute more to the overall success. More importantly, a situational leader understands how to motivate the staff by empowering and supporting them in various tasks that motivate them.

Countering volatility and uncertainty

Situational leadership is extremely effective in countering workplace volatility and uncertainty. Most often, a sales team consists of free-thinking, aggressive, energetic, and intelligent persons. Hence, frequent disagreements occur within almost every performing sales team.

By being proactive in directing and guiding the sales staff, a sales manager who applies this model helps ease tension within the team. A situational sales leader can defuse these tensed situations by exercising the task-oriented leadership approach suitable to specific circumstances.

Successful leaders are trailblazers who always attempt to be one step ahead of any situation. They constantly obtain feedback from the team members on issues and challenges. A good sales manager empowers the team members by recognising their efforts. The reciprocation of the team helps achieve new visions.

Control outcomes by influence

Situational leadership controls outcomes due to the effectiveness of the ability to influence the team in all directions. Like in a game of chess, successful leaders are always ten steps ahead in assessing the next move. They consider every move the opponents can make to counter them. Hence, by being proactive, the sales manager can anticipate and consider the reactions of the subordinates. This leadership style allows the leader to look beyond the present scenario and act accordingly.

It takes a variety of skills such as clarity, focus, and communication ability, to be a great leader.

He or she understands the general behaviour of the subordinates and is aware of his capability of influencing a team of workers. A successful leader follows either a charismatic and flexible or hard-line approach depending on the situation.

Situational leadership is adaptive, intelligent, emotional, and influential. This people-oriented leadership style is one of the most successful models to lead a sales team successfully. When the leader understands how the people will respond to the ideas pitched, he can clearly see which direction they are headed. In business, situational leaders know how to deliver a message to derive the most effective response from the staff with minimal resistance.