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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Which is More Important in a Sales Manager: Empathy or Accountability?

Which_is_More_Important_in_a_Sales_Manager_Empathy_or_AccountabilityI often encounter sales managers who are struggling with this question:  Should they be the supportive manager who mentors and grows their salespeople—or should they be the kind of manager that holds their salespeople tightly accountable for results?

The Empathetic Manager

Empathetic managers are warm and friendly. They know their salespeople well—not just the details of their personal lives, but what makes them tick and what their key talents are.  They care about their people, help them build their talents into strenghs, and work to advance their employees’ careers.

The Accountability Manager

Managers who focus on accountability are more performance-driven. They track the numbers, analyze what they mean, and use the data to set specific goals and expectations for their people. They create an environment based on measurement and high performance standards, and everyone understands there are consequences for falling below standards too frequently.

Which is Better?

Managers want to know:  Should they be the warm, supportive mentor? Or the high-standards, high-expectations boss? The fascinating thing I’ve discovered after talking to several people who are asking this question is that they already know which way they lean. Every manager leans either toward being empathetic, and should therefore build their accountability muscle, or they lean toward accountability and should learn how to be more empathetic and mentoring. 

Great B2B sales managers shouldn’t be choosing one path or the other.  They should be both. Salespeople should be nurtured and grown… and held to high standards of performance.

Managers don’t need to struggle with this. Parents don't think they have to choose between expecting good behavior and loving their kids, and neither should sales managers. 

Looking for better ways to hold your people accountable? Start by getting clear on the most important leading indicators and the most essential performance measures to track. For some tips on the options to choose from, download our Sales Performance Dashboard.

Download Sales Performance Paper