This is a story of two leaders.
We worked with the organisation on team leadership because one
of their sales teams was “highly successful” and another was “doing
poorly, with a very low morale”. The organisation wanted us to
“find out what's working in [the high-performing team], fix
the [low-performing team] and run a training programme for all the
other sales teams to be as good as [the high-performing
Ann, the leader of the high-performing team had joined the
company 5 years previously as a sales representative. She was
good at her job and always exceeded her targets. She was
promoted to team leader after 3 years and had infused her own
enthusiasm, determination and will to her team. Her team
members were happy, hard-working and also successful, most
Joe, the leader of the low-performing team had similarly joined
the company 5 years previously, though as sales team leader.
Joe's team were, by contrast, unhappy and unsuccessful in
achieving targets. This had been the case for all 5 years. The team
members had changed frequently over, this time, only one
member remained from the original team that Joe took over.
Ann was enthusiastic when we spoke with her about her success.
Saying “It's great to have such a wonderful team. I enjoy
working with them and we're doing well.” She went on, “My
boss is great, really believes in me and lets me run things the way
I want. I like that, and I try to treat everyone in the team
the same way. When they are down about something, maybe their
kid is in trouble or sick, I let them take time out if they need
to, so long as the work gets done sometime, it doesn't ‘have
to be 9 to 5. I trust them to make up the time, and they do,
Joe was belligerent when we spoke, “I have tried everything
possible to make these people work harder and make target.
They're always moaning that their kid's sick or they have to
visit the doctor. Always skiving off, taking toilet breaks,
going for coffee. If I turn my back for one instant, they're
gone.” When prompted, Joe continues, “My boss is pretty useless.
Only ever comes round at the end of the month to [tell me
off] for not making target. To be honest, I'm fed up, I don't
‘think I'll ever get this team to perform and the stress is making
There are, of course, several things here we could expand on,
but what was clearly apparent was that Ann's boss believed in
her and she, in turn, believed in her team and their abilities,
that she could trust them and that they would deliver.
Ann's boss believed in her and she, in turn, believed in her
team and their abilities, that she could trust them and that
they would deliver.
Joe's boss, didn't appear to be that concerned for Joe and
didn't help. Joe, in turn, trusted staff to ‘skive' and believed
that she would never get the team to perform.
When someone else, particularly someone in authority over you (a
leader, parent, boss, teacher) believes in you and your
abilities it helps you to believe in yourself and your team.
What you believe on the inside, becomes manifest on the outside.
This is usually the attitude that you portray and the way you
It saddens me that quite a number of clients I meet who have had
someone steal their self-esteem at some point in their life. Be it
a parent, a lousy teacher or a bullying superior. The good news for
many is that it has helped them to turn victimhood into
victory. Making sure that they never do that to someone else.
But not everyone has someone who will help build them up. And,
unsurprisingly, those who, like Joe, tend to believe the worst of
everyone, were themselves robbed of their self-esteem earlier in
their life and career.
The great news is that you can turn it around, by appreciating
your own value, your own core strengths and choose to edify
The quickest and most effective way to build yourself up is
Believe in someone else today
If, by some chance you are wishing that your parents, teachers,
boss etc showed their belief in you? or even vaguely tempted to go
“if only?” Go forth right now, find someone that you care about and
say the following:
“I believe in you. You can achieve anything you want to