Sales Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness and Competitive Advantage via the FLOW-Factor

— Guest blog entry by Alex Ellinis—

Alex has spent the last 20 years working in management and senior leadership roles across various diverse sectors that include, Travel & Tourism, Supply Chain, Transport & Logistics, Security and Civil engineering. He holds an MSc in Strategic management, a Level 8 Diploma in Leadership, a black belt in Lean six sigma and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Business Strategy at Monarch University, Switzerland.

On our journey of leadership excellence, employee engagement, development and organizational success, we the executive team are always trying to guide our organization to profitability while relentlessly striking the balance between these financial success measures and employee engagement through development.

There is a clear objective of creating an environment where leaders have followers within a harmonious and collaborative place to work.

One of the most temperamental environments within organizations is how sales drive our organizational growth and how the seamless transition of customers moves within organizations, this is often referred to as the customer journey. We often look at different proven frameworks such as DISC, Myer Briggs, BELBIN, traditional sales training, coaching, mentoring to test and bring together sales professionals, managers and leaders. This plethora of different options, often with varying costs backed by empirical evidence create many options for leadership, but there is little that emphasizes the key advantages of applying positive psychology,  the way “Flow” founded by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Within sales we hear and say things like, ‘do more prospecting’, ‘get a bigger pipeline’, ‘improve conversion ratios’, ‘upsell customers’, ‘reduce customer churn’. All very pertinent for sales effectiveness in today’s competitive environment and these tried and tested metrics are very valid in today’s sales arena.

We know that making more prospecting phone calls generates more opportunities, more opportunities in the pipeline allow us the opportunity to convert more business, more business makes for “Good Business”. However, all too often we have confused our salespeople, who are instructed by their management, who again themselves are led in many different organizational directions and by their own top leaders, who too often lack of clarity on goals, who give poor feedback, don’t balance skills and challenges.

I have seen all to often top managers with a weak strategy and that they can create negative behavioral impacts which again lead to overall poor performance.

The challenge is how can we create leadership that drives our people to want to go out in tough often commoditized markets to face rejection day after day and still strive to be the best, how do we as leaders train, develop and retain at all levels in our organization while developing ourselves?

In 1993 Jimmy Johnson the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys raised a book of “Flow” to the camera at half time while explaining how “Flow” had helped him and his team prepare for the Superbowl, the Cowboys went on to win the Superbowl which set in place a catalyst of events that has brought “Flow” Leadership to businesses around the world.

Pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “Flow” is the state where we perform in our peak, our productivity, purpose, belonging and satisfaction improve, flow is being in the zone, on fire and being at peak performance, you are and become totally immersed, actions become second nature and you are energized and focused.

Of the 29 identified, measured and globally benchmarked leadership skills or qualities Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and research colleague Dr. Zoltan Buzady highlighted 4 core skills that Leaders excelled in that brought people into “Flow”. The global award-winning leadership development simulation / serious game, named FLIGBY, also trains managers in these skills:  1.  Flow-promoting leadership skill, 2. Setting an overall strategy, 3. Balancing skills and challenges levels and 4.  Giving feedback.

Collectively these Flow-related and other leadership skills can gain and sustain a competitive advantage, while improving existing skill levels, creating a high-performance environment with engagement and satisfaction.

Individual learning styles differ considerably.  However, research suggests that interactive gaming can much enhance the learning process. What we played and learned leadership with FLIGBY: in the interactive gaming tool, each participant assumed the role of being a true business leader.  Put into a real-life situation where they virtually assume the role of general manager/CEO of a Californian winery that has lost its direction since the previous CEO leaving. The management teams are disjointed and demotivated. Each participant needed to navigate their way through 23 interactive scenes and make 150 decisions that ultimately might turn the business around, create a better work team and foster individual Flow.

The comprehensive 42-page individual player analysis generated at the end of the simulation process helps the manager-player-learner to and their organization to conceptualize the 29 leadership traits and to assess the 4 core competencies for “Flow”. Clearly, this is this a data-driven basis and drive in creating a comprehensive internal leadership academy or a development programme.

Other major benefits could be in creating a talent pool of senior managers that could go on to assume the top leadership roles. A move from sales to talent pipeline – so to say!

FLIGBY can help sales leaders’ focus on setting a strategy with much clearer goals, balancing skills and challenges while giving feedback which collectively can contribute to putting both themselves and their teams in a state of “Flow” while creating a balanced workplace that drives customers satisfaction and profitable growth that is “Good Business”.

“Obviously the two things that you need to know: who are your customers and what they need, and then who are your workers and what are their strengths” quote by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.


Guest Blog Post prepared by Alex Ellinis with professional support by Dr. Zoltan Buzady, Director of our “Leadership & Flow Global Research Network”.

Alex has spent the last 20 years working in management and senior leadership roles across various diverse sectors that include, Travel & Tourism, Supply Chain, Transport & Logistics, Security and Civil engineering.
He holds an MSc in Strategic management, a Level 8 Diploma in Leadership, a black belt in Lean six sigma and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Business Strategy at Monarch University, Switzerland.

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