As most of you know, I went through a period of about seven years when I was training and consulting, but not actively building a business. When I got back in the field five years ago, I built faster than I ever had before. Dramatically faster…
Now I can attribute that to a number of variables: Of course I chose a solid company with a sexy product line. I believe I had advanced a great deal in my self-development and people skills. I was a better copywriter, marketer and knew how to use technology. But I don’t think those things made the real breakthrough…
I believe the biggest breakthrough came because of the experience I had during those seven years I was out of the field. During that time I was:
- President of my church board;
- Active organizing political campaigns;
- President of the Florida Speakers Association;
- President of the local Chamber of Commerce; and,
- Vice president of the Viper car club.
There was a very important commonality in all these activities. In each case I was leading an all-volunteer army.
Big, big difference from my past…
Remember I used to be a restaurant manager. And reached that position with no formal training, simply by working my way up from dishwasher. Looking back at it, I can honestly say I had some management skills, but virtually no leadership ones.
The restaurant industry has a turnover ratio that makes Network Marketing look positively stellar. The industry average in the hospitality biz is 200% annually. In the sector I worked, it’s even higher!
In an average month I might have between ten to 15 employees quit. If someone couldn’t get off the night of a concert, they quit. If they couldn’t leave early when their favorite TV show was on, they just left anyway. So at the end of the day, there were times when my management technique was to say, “If you don’t mop the floor before you leave, you’re fired.” (Now I’m not claiming this was a good leadership strategy, just that it was what I did.)
Now picture the difference when I was in charge of leading all these non-profit organizations. In each case I was leading volunteers. People I couldn’t hire or fire. They only stayed around if they wanted to stay around.
Your network is an all-volunteer army as well. So how can you be an effective leader for them? Here’s my take. Please share yours.
I believe it starts with integrity. Your people have to know that you have their best interest at heart. That means you never lie to them or coach them in a way that isn’t in the best interest of their business. It means you’re accountable: you honor your commitments and do what you say.
Some other important things:
Inclusion. Involve them in the decision making process to the degree they are qualified. (Key here is that last part. New people aren’t qualified to create presentations, set training agendas or change the system. But they probably deserve a seat at the table sooner than your control freak tendencies believe is the case.)
Recognition. The magic elixir of MLM, and leadership in general. No one does enough of this. No one.
Exclusion. Keep the train moving fast enough so that people have to be a little breathless to keep up. Give them some stretch goals and objections to reach before they get to participate in some of the “insider” stuff.
Model the behavior. Stop trying to sponsor two people and manage them to making you rich. It ain’t happening. You can’t manage people anyway. You lead people and manage things. And you lead by example. You sponsor, you bring guests, you attend events, you promote to the next major.
Expectations. This is the thing that worked best for me in the non-profits, and still works best in our biz. I have always been blessed to be able to see the greatness in others, often before they can see it in themselves. Let your people know you believe in them and create expectations for what you know they can do. It’s amazing how often they will live up to them!