The Seven Principles of Leadership in Direct Selling and Network Marketing

Most people never give it a thought, that they are leading others every day. However, there is not a minute goes by that someone, is not looking at your actions and duplicating them, right or wrong. This is why it is so important we set the right examples of leadership.

This is why as the leader, you need to continually focus on what’s best for the team you are leading. Here are a seven simple principles you can implement to keep your balance and to lead your sales organization in the right direction.

Establish a Crusade

One of the most basic human needs is to belong to something bigger than ourselves. As the leader, you have to establish the crusade, paint the big picture, or as John Maxwell states it “Establish a Vision.”

No matter what you call it, it has to inspire others to buy-in and share it with the world. It is this simple principle, which causes people to come to the aid of those in Haiti, fight for the freedom of others, and dive into freezing water to rescue a drowning child. Or stay with Primerica and Herbalife in the 1980s when they were just getting started.

Every successful company I’ve researched, was built on a crusade of changing the way people live in one way or another. Every successful team leader I have interviewed, inspired their troops with a crusade of changing their small part of the world. What is your crusade? How are you inspiring your team?

Get Rid of Your EGO

Dogmatic, egotistical leaders who lead with a tyrannical attitude went out the window years ago. If you are still seeing this as leadership, then you may need to start an organized crime family instead of a sales organization or direct selling company.

Leader’s today lead from the heart. They are humble, yet confident. They focus on what is best to fulfill the crusade, not their pocket books or ego. They are driven to leave a legacy, not to be seen as the hero of every accomplishment. They sacrifice their own short-term gains, for what is best for the long-term growth of the company or team.

The great leaders never focus on their ego, they focus on building up those leaders around them. They are fast to take responsibility for the loses and give credit to the team for the wins. They are passionately ambitious, but their ambition is focused on the growth of the company and team, not on personal gain.

Putting the Team First

For the Founder and CEOs who read this, you have a double and maybe a triple responsibility, depending on if you are running a publicly traded company. You are serving your employees, shareholders and the sales force. However, if the company crusade is powerful, and you are living by the crusade you have established, then this should come as second nature.

To serve the corporate team and/or your shareholders, your main focus should be on serving those who answer to your directly. By your example, they will duplicate and start to serve those who answer to them. If you have someone on your team who does not live by these principles, then you will need to help them find a new career with a new company, where they may fit better.

You also want to get out from behind your desk, and go sit with your frontline team members. Take time to visit customer service, listen to the situations your team is going through, answer a few of the calls, and show the team, you are there to serve them, not the other way around.

When it comes to the sales force, field leaders must remember, if it were not for the folks at the bottom of the compensation structure, there would not be a top of the structure. Each team member is a potential leader, until they prove otherwise. Take time each day to call people on the sale team who are consistently producing sales or growing their respective teams, thank them for their hard work, and ask them how you can serve them.

Founders and CEOs make yourself available to your top leaders on a regular basis. If they know you are there for them, and you continue to appreciate and build the relationship, they will not go looking for greener pastures.

Take Full Responsibility

We all want to take credit for the successes of the team. However, great leaders know the successes have more to do with the team, than it does them personal. Give the team credit all the time for the successes. When a marketing campaign increases monthly volume by $1 million dollars, give the team credit. When a new product, becomes a category leader, give the team credit. When a field leader leaves the company for a new challenge, you take full responsibility. Don’t blame the leader who left, realize you are the head honcho, and you are responsible.

This does not mean you caused it personally. We all know some folks are just more mixed up than we are, and will let their ego get in the way of good judgment. However, if we slow down and give it some thought, most of the time we saw the signs, and ignored them. They stopped taking our calls, they stopped calling to share the wins, and started making excuses for why they could not make the field leadership calls.

Be the Leader of the Pack

The leader always sets the example. If you see a weakness on the team, and want something to change, then lead the change. The lead dog sets the courses, since you are the lead dog, make the changes you expect and the whole team, corporate and field will follow.

John Maxwell calls this “The Law of the Picture – People Do What People See.” When you as the leader set the example, live out the big picture, and the team sees you are living the crusade, they will step up and follow your example.

One of the best examples of this in Direct Sales is when Bill and Robin Shaw bought and merged Entertaining at Home and Southern Living at Home together. Because they set the example and embraced all of the consultants as one big family, the field leaders of both companies welcomed each other as one big family. This action flowed through both companies down to the newest reps.

Take a Gut Check

Some call it a reality check, I call it a gut check. Each leader must acknowledge the reality of their situation. You can’t close your eyes and pretend it will go away. Step back and get a clear vision of the current picture. If the company or team is growing great, if attrition is eating into cash flow, and commissions are climbing through the roof, then it’s time to call an emergency meeting with the top leaders inside the corporate office and in the field.

Trust me, sticking your head in the ground, will not change their problem, it just makes your butt a better target for those who are gunning for you. The greatest leaders are those who talk about the situation. Look, other people are already talking about it, when you as the leader acknowledge the reality of the situation, then you allow others to help you find a solution.

When the leader is authentic and transparent, not ignoring situations at hand, they gain influence and leverage with their team and people will rally around them to help find an answer. People love an underdog, and will do more for others than themselves. I have yet to find a lone ranger who accomplished anything. Take a gut check and call in the troops.

Never Give Up

If you know without a shadow of doubt, the crusade you have set out on is right for the world, right for the team, right for you and your family. Then you never give up seeing it come to past. No matter how rocky the road gets, no matter how many dull negative dissolution crybabies who come calling telling you to give it up. You dig deep inside and keep moving forward.

When the team sees you are willing to take the hits head on, and are not backing down, they will know you are true to your word, believe what you preach, and will follow you to the gets of hell.

Art Williams the founder of Primierca is the best example of someone who believed in the crusade so deeply, he was willing to stake his whole future on it. He fought for the rights on the average American and his team. In the end, he won the fight. Today Primerica is the leading financial solution for more Middle Americans than any other company, and they pay their field force over $655 million dollars a year. Never underestimate the heart of a winner!