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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Grow Future Leaders with Socraticship


I have noticed that many leaders I work with tend to retreat, decide, and dictate when the stakes are high and the stress is intense. True confession: I actually do this as well, but it’s easier to see how screwed up it is when I see others doing it! Right. I’m talking about times like budgeting for the new year or creating a new compensation plan to drive intended behaviors.

Here’s the irony. One of the common needs I hear expressed by those in the top sales leadership role in a company (business owners, VP Sales, Director of Sales, etc.) is how to develop the other sales managers in their organization. The ironic part is the greatest growth opportunities are these high stakes moments that fall on the top sales leader. Instead of retreating, deciding, and dictating, consider Socraticship. I know Socraticship is not really a word, but maybe it should be. Socraticship is Leadership that leads with questions, instead of answers.

If you are the Director of Sales with a big task ahead of you, start by formulating the questions you will ask the sales managers who report to you in your organization. Resist the urge to roll out your plan without giving managers a chance to think about the issue and provide feedback.

Here are some thought-starter questions to help you in your Socraticship approach:

  1. What are the most important behaviors we should track—those actions that we believe lead to success?
  2. What ideas do you have for our new compensation plan?
  3. What behaviors should we make sure we incentivize in our new compensation plan?
  4. What unintended consequences could be lurking in this idea I have?
  5. How should we price this product/service?

Socraticship not only helps you grow future leaders, it might even help you make better decisions along the way!

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Topics: Sales leadership