My daughters and I visited Mt. Evans this week. Mt. Evans has the highest paved road in North America. It goes to the top, 14,200 feet. It’s an amazing trip. Once at the top, there is a short walk to the “peak.”
If you ever been to 14,000 feet, the air is thin and exercising is harder than at sea-level.
My daughters asked if we could take the short walk and climb to the top. About a quarter of the way up they started complaining they were tired and dizzy. My oldest kept stopping every few feet. As the path switched back and forth my daughters asked if they could take a “short-cut” and climb straight up the rocks to the higher path. In essence, they were avoiding the switch back and going straight up.
My first reaction was no. I was concerned about them getting hurt. However, as I thought about it, I changed my mind. Once they chose their own path, they never complained again. They walked straight up, beating me, as I meandered the switchbacks. Everything changed once they got to own their own way. They climbed faster. I no longer had to wait for them. They stopped complaining. The dizziness miraculously disappeared and the fun came back to the hike.
Sales people are no different. When sales leaders are prescriptive sales people complain. They don’t climb as fast. The environment makes them dizzy. They stop to rest every few feet. It’s not fun. When we let sales people chose their own path, everything becomes more fun.
I’ve talked a lot on this blog about micro-management and the mistake of managing activity. People need to be able to chose their own path. They need to own their success. When we tell people how to do it, we suck the life out of them.
My daughters had fun, beat me to the top and I was able to stop telling them to suck it up and keep climbing. Last I checked, that’s a win all the way around.
Do you allow your sales people to chose their own path?