Leadership Skills to Solidify Enablement’s Credibility
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There’s nothing quite like a good leader. Take a sports coach for example; a good coach can take any team to the next level, shaping the lives of their athletes in the process. But these great leaders go beyond just winning games and championships – they also build strong bonds with their athletes, setting them up for long-term success. The same is true of leaders in business.
“We have to be willing to commit to the biggest and most important priorities that are going to drive our business forward and then focus on helping the team hone skills and knowledge to be able to lead towards that goal,” said Mike Weir, chief revenue officer at G2. “We make sure that while they’re going towards that goal, we’re helping them prepare for the future.”
Just as a sports team needs a great coach to be set up for success, an enablement team needs strong leadership to solidify the value of the function and deliver impact. From leading with authenticity, embracing adaptability, and driving change, enablement leaders can harness core skills to effectively guide their teams toward long-term success.
Authentic Leadership to Build Enablement Credibility
Authentic leadership is rooted in transparent and honest behavior that encourages team members to share their ideas, contributing directly to the team’s success by building strong relationships that are rooted in mutual trust and respect.
Authentic leaders take the time to understand their team members and their individual work styles, helping to create a positive environment that caters to their team’s specific needs. When a leader takes an active role in their team’s well-being and development, they are able to cultivate a more cohesive workplace that celebrates their strengths and builds a shared trust in the impact of their work.
“It again goes back to knowing your people, taking an interest in their culture, who they are, in and out of work, without being too invasive,” said Wesley Ulysse, vice president of sales, North America at Red Points. “The keywords there are interest and authenticity, so I think it’s more on the organizations to hire someone who is genuinely interested in creating and maintaining that diversity. That obviously goes hand-in-hand with enablement, so being able to partner with someone who is genuinely interested in creating that type of environment, partnering with sales enablement to propel that environment into success.”
In prioritizing this foundation of trust, leaders are able to establish credibility with their teams, helping to position the entire team for success in building credibility with stakeholders. With the team unified by shared respect and understanding of the strengths within the team and how they can help add value to the team’s goals, they can better advocate for the value of the team across the business and ensure stakeholders are aligned to these goals.
“It is about credibility,” said Adriana Romero, senior manager of productivity at Salesforce. “One of the things that I would say is, you have to demonstrate that what you’re doing in terms of enablement functions or workshops or any initiatives are backed up by the data that you have in the company and that you are backing up data in terms of numbers, in terms of gaps. You’re coming to the sales managers with an intelligent solution.”
Building enablement teams that are led by strong leaders who deeply care about the needs of their team members are crucial to the long-term success of enablement. Authentic leadership cultivates widespread trust in the team’s ability to successfully grow enablement’s impact.
Adapting, Not Adopting, Leadership Styles
Having an adaptive mindset when working cross-functionally helps to widen a leader’s impact and yield more successful results. When a leader is flexible with their work style, they are able to better meet the needs of the diverse teams and partners they work with.
“When I’m in a group organization, it’s important that I am able to flex and adapt my style, adapt my authenticity to fit in the flow within the team versus trying to force my way on others,” said Jeffrey Hatchell, vice president, head of US sales enablement and global leadership at American Express.
For example, though an enablement leader may naturally be more of a coach, a scenario might require the team leader to act as a pace-setter, keeping their team accountable for meeting their deadlines. However, this does not mean that the team leader should abandon their coaching tendencies but rather adapt them to best fit the needs of their team.
“The example that I love to use is the dancing example,” said Hatchell. “When you are at a wedding, and they’re doing a line dance, and everyone is dancing to the same song, same beat, we’re doing the same thing, but if you narrow in on one person, they may be dealing with a little extra flair.”
Everyone on a team brings their own individual strengths and flair to each situation, so leaders should pay attention to these differences and adapt their style to best complement and emphasize their team member’s strengths. By adapting their work style to the unique needs of the team in a given scenario, leaders can unite their teams towards common goals and engage in more meaningful interactions with stakeholders to solidify enablement’s credibility.
Proactively Anticipating and Preparing for Change
Rather than waiting for change to occur and reacting to it, enablement leaders can grow their impact by being proactive when assessing potential changes on the horizon and looking for solutions. When leaders focus on anticipating change, they are better able to prepare their teams to be resilient amid uncertainty and ultimately stay ahead of the curve.
“Change is inevitable,” said Hatchell. “Companies are constantly looking at doing things differently. They’re reorging, managing things from a different perspective, and I like to say it’s a good idea to be proactive as it relates to change. So, not just looking and waiting for change to happen to you, but be proactive and think about what other ways can I organize my team myself, how can I see what I’m doing from a different perspective that can help provide and drive more results for our business partners that we serve and the sales organization to satisfy their customers.”
By focusing on eliminating the fear and resistance that often surrounds change, particularly when it is unexpected or disruptive, enablement leaders can instead help rally excitement and momentum around change by proactively planning for it and embedding change management solutions into ongoing enablement programs. In doing so, enablement leaders can help businesses reduce the risk of disruptive change and help them stay ahead of competitors.
Good leaders transform teams. They are able to change the way the team functions, uniting them towards a common goal and yielding progress against key business priorities. Much like a great sports coach, a great enablement leader can take their team to victory. When enablement leaders take the time to understand the way their team functions and try to meet their team’s needs through authenticity, proactivity, and adaptability, they are better able to set their teams up for success and prove the value of enablement to the business.