(Most people read Pt. 1 before they read Pt. 2 but just in case you didn’t: I left a solid position as the number one Sales Exec at a company. After doing so, I took time to review the impact that my manager had on my decision).
Marshall–the CSO–wasn’t a fan of salespeople and where they were concerned he lacked vision. Long term perspective would have allowed him to nurture his team, treating them as commodities to be nurtured and developed over time. For him, support team members weren’t individuals with great potential for contribution so he couldn’t acknowledge any idea that wasn’t his own as one that could be successful. If this isn’t enough for you to get that people leave people not companies, read on. You understand? Read on, anyway. Humor me.
I left him because he was like living with a drunken parent. I know, it sounds harsh, but imagine coming home from school and not being sure of just what will set mommy or daddy off (ironically he referred to himself as a “step dad”). I left him because he called others liars while lying himself. Not lying just through direct verbiage but through manipulation and this for me is professionally unacceptable.
I left him because he couldn’t give anyone credit for being knowledgeable in their role except in a backhanded manner. When I accomplished a major sales goal, he pointedly ignored any celebration of it. Why? I have a few thoughts about that. Marshall would never congratulate someone on something that he perceived as their responsibility but placed very little value in. The value was the dollars that I drove, not me, and showing any appreciation would be recognizing an individual and perhaps inflating her confidence unnecessarily. Little did he know that confidence is like a sales warrior’s genetic marker and attempts to damage it are futile (this is where my partner would have inserted an evil laugh).
I left him because he consistently ran off mentors, successful people in sales management that could lift production and career value of my colleagues and me, because he wasn’t comfortable being challenged and his selfish nature led him to believe that they didn’t bring HIM value. He once referred to a prove industry leader as being lazy as a way to dismiss the fact that he didn’t like this gentleman and knew that his C-level pedigree was greater than his own.
I left him because he assumed that being smart in SOME areas made him above challenge in ANY areas.
I left him because he considered salespeople as plug-n-play options, necessary but expendable. An example was that when his #1 producer put in her notice (yes, me) he reassigned my territory without acknowledging my resignation. A “we don’t really need you” gesture that made me laugh and one that he tried to refute when he asked me to stay two days later.
I didn’t want to be begged, it wasn’t my intention, and truthfully I have a rule about counteroffers, and accepting one from someone I don’t trust would definitely go against that rule. However, a true sales leader or visionary would not let their ego get ahead of the success of the company. Salespeople with documented success are hard to come by, you don’t let them walk without discussing the whys or being open to seeing your part in it.
I left him because insecurity is not a trait that I value. My best mentors have all been men, including my current leader. I’ve gravitated to the amount of leverage that men are able to drive in companies without appearing overly emotional, since many of us women get a bad wrap and unfortunately I haven’t had great success with female bosses. I say that because my male mentors were all very confident. Their belief in their own backgrounds allowed them to push me to grow and focus on my career without feeling as though it would diminish their ability.
Marshall’s insecurity was consistently exhibited. Whether it was bad mouthing previous/current employees and leaders or confronting me for having a recorded conversation in which he felt a colleague and I were “talking about him”. That day felt like a high school lunch room conversation with the petulant teachers pet and stuck out in my mind as behavior unbecoming a true leader. It was additional confirmation that I needed to seek another environment.
I left Marshall because his ambition was eclipsing his aptitude. Sure, he was smart but he wasn’t smart enough to realize that you can’t do everything yourself and that surrounding yourself with people who are afraid to challenge you doesn’t mean you are creating a collaborative environment. Rigid ambition motivated purely by the need for power is damaging to everyone and everything it touches.
The above paragraphs all include “I left him” because at the end of the day my clients, success, and paycheck were not enough to trump the fact that working for Marshall was teaching me more negative than positive. I COULD work for him but I WOULDN’T. I would not give him the satisfaction of claiming my success as a result of his leadership. I had no interest in confirming his management style as relevant to someone with my level of talent and self-directed abilities. Additionally, I didn’t respect his lack of first hand sales knowledge and unwillingness to admit it.
For those who may think so, I’m not sour grapes over the situation. My feet landed on solid ground and I walked away on my terms but, more than that, I’m grateful to Marshall. He confirmed that my career and personal growth should be my greatest priority (as was his) and that WHO I work for/with is just as important as where I work and what I’m doing. I made a mature decision and in doing so proved that while money is important it isn’t my sole motivation and that the risk I was willing to take would be the type of thing that will make me a great entrepreneur in the future.
Without changing the title of this piece, I’ll admit that I could be wrong in throwing out the old cliché. Maybe people do leave companies but only because of the environment created by the people who lead them.