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Scott Miller: Lead. Fail. Evolve.

June 22, 2020
Sheena Badani

Sheena Badani

Revenue Intelligence

How can you evolve into a great leader?

What’s a sales leader’s real job?

Where does self-awareness come from?

On a recent episode of the Reveal podcast, we connected with Scott Miller, EVP of Thought Leadership and CMO at Franklin Covey, for answers to these and other questions that are top of mind for revenue leaders.

Key Points to Remember

  1. Most people are promoted into leadership roles for the wrong reasons.
  2. Your job as a leader is to get work done with and through other people.
  3. People don’t quit leaders who love them. People quit bad bosses and corrupt cultures.
  4. People aren’t your organization’s best asset. Relationships between your people are. 
  5. Self-awareness flows from feedback.

Driving Thought Leadership

In our company, thought leadership is everything. Intellectual property and thought leadership is how we build our brand. It’s how we articulate our point of view. It’s how we share our expertise. 

My job as a member of the executive team is to make sure that everybody in the world who should know who Franklin Covey is, does. And that isn’t seven and a half million people. That’s a couple of million people that are chief learning officers, that are CHROs, that are vice presidents of training or development, that are in charge of talent and capability development for organizations. 

So my job is to make sure that through podcasts, through interviews, through books, print, digital, audio, articles, interviews, keynote speeches—you name it—that Franklin Covey is out there. Not boiling the ocean or net fishing as we call it. But spear fishing and making sure that our expertise is in the minds of those who have an interest in letting us come in and help them solve a problem they have. 

Learning to Lead

I think most people would say my style was suffocating and unrelenting. It’s why I wrote the book [Management Mess to Leadership Success], because here I was a leader of people in arguably the world’s largest and most prominent leadership development firm. 

And I’m like a bull in a china shop. 

I’m like most people that are promoted into leadership roles—they shouldn’t have been. The reason they were promoted was because they were the most competent individual producer. They were the most effective dental hygienist or the most creative digital designer or the top-producing salesperson. 

Before you know it, now you’re the leader of the Sales division. And you like that because now you have power and influence, and you’re making more money. 

There’s no correlation to the competencies that make you a great digital designer, and you being capable of leading the digital team. 

So for me, I think my leadership style was like most leaders—I was making it up. I was trying to turn people into my clone. I thought my job was to be loud and in control and brash and charismatic and influential. 

Maybe some of that’s true. I know lots of leaders that are a little more retiring, quiet, deliberative, and contemplative. That doesn’t describe me. 

So I’ve crashed and burned a few times. 

There comes a time when we realize as a leader, your job is to get work done with and through other people. That you are not the smartest person in the room. You are not the genius, but rather you should be the genius maker of others. That a little more patience, a little more abundance, a little more of a mindset that your job is to coach and grow and mentor and turn the spotlight off of you onto them.

My job is to be a talent magnet. Recruit and retain the best possible talent. And then clear away the red tape, solve their problems, give them feedback on their blind spots. Build a culture where they choose to stay and collaborate and thrive.

Data Breakout—Time Management

Scott is one of the most efficient leaders we’ve met. So it only felt right to share some data and tips for time management. Here’s what we learned from HV MacArthur’s Forbes article—Effective Time Management While Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Pandemic—which shares the insights that Clockwise found by analyzing user behaviors:

  • Meetings are increasing. Clockwise saw a 12% increase—that’s 1.5 hours per person—in meetings (compared to life before shelter in place). 
  • Pay attention to time between meetings. It’s important not to be passive with your “breath” time between meetings. Clockwise saw an 8% decrease in the amount of “focus time” measured by blocks of two hours or more used for deep work. 
  • MacArthur suggests blocking your calendar for high-priority projects, unless you want someone to book that little white space you have left on your calendar for something that might not be quite as important for you. That’s easier said than done, we know. But interesting all the same, and worth trying this week (or next week if your calendar is already looking pretty double-booked).

Leading by Intention

As a sales leader, your job is to build capability in others. Your job is not to rush in and save the day, or rush in and close the sale for them. Your job is not to turn that salesperson into your clone. They don’t have your skills. They don’t have your fears. They have different skills, different fears. 

Your job is to know their strengths and their weaknesses. Your job is to build a high-trust relationship with those who work with you. 

People don’t quit leaders who love them. People quit bad bosses and corrupt cultures. As a sales leader, if my intent is to build your income, build your confidence, build your skills, build your 401K, help get your kids through college, I’m going to lead you differently than if I think, “My job is to help you get me in good standing with my boss.” It’s a fundamentally different mindset. 

You hear this HR adage all the time—that people are an organization’s most valuable asset. It’s absolutely not true. People are not an organization’s most valuable asset. Rather, it’s the relationships between those people that are your company’s killer app. That is your organization’s competitive advantage.

The Critical Skill

I think self-awareness is probably the most under-utilized leadership competency, because self-awareness flows from feedback…from having other people talk to you about your blind spots. 

Grow your self-awareness through making it safe for other people to tell you their truth. 

  • What is it like to go on a sales call with you? 
  • What is it like to be in a pipeline review meeting with you? 
  • What is it like to come to the end of the quarter with you and make my goal, but have no celebration or no collaboration? 
  • What is it like to bring a deal to you, and then you steal it from me and close it for yourself, or take the credit? 

Whatever it is. Ask what it’s like to work for you.

I come back to this vulnerability piece so often. You can still be a respected and influential leader that grows and stretches contribution. And be relatable and share stories that are real. And be open to people’s feedback to grow your self-reflection. That’s the kind of boss I want to work for.

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