Today’s sales leader cannot just be someone who manages numbers and checks forecasts.

Today’s sales leader has to lead, motivate, coach, align the team’s personal values to the business values and they must foster an environment of trust and momentum in order to create pace and results.

Sadly, too many sales leaders don’t know what to do to amp up the changes necessary to shift the status quo, to break free of the stress and frustration, to grow as a person or even make a huge dent in their competitive reality.

Sales leaders today can’t just commentate at the weekly meetings and hassle over KPI’s not achieved.  They must roll up their sleeves and truly collaborate with their people. Tap into their heart, their gut and their brains.

But how? And who? And isn’t that a bit ‘soft’?

In my conscious selling model, I reference that Sales 3.0 is all about transformation and inspiration.  Referring to our levels of intention, relevance and authenticity – all three relying on a level of energy that is quick paced, that is based on self and others, and an approach that also creates stimulation and challenge for the leader. Energy is important as it will create momentum with you, your team and your buyer as well.

We know that business today is moving at an ever quickening pace and as a result, those in leadership roles and on the frontline are struggling to keep up the pace, or even know what the pace is, so identifying the link between speed and effectiveness is key.

50.000 leaders completed a 360 feedback through Zenger Folkman, a leadership development consultancy, and as a result a ‘speed index’ was created and showed there is a correlation between both speed and effectiveness. They focused on three key areas:

  1. Understanding how well a leader [or salesperson] can spot problems early
  2. How quickly they can respond to those problems
  3. How quickly they can make necessary changes to those problems

What they discovered in focusing on the top 10% of leaders as rated by their colleagues, and how they correlated to overall leadership effectiveness, showed:

2% were judged particularly fast but not exceptionally effective (fast only)

3% were not particularly fast yet highly effective (good and slow, that is, people trusted them to do the right thing)

95% were judged to be particularly effective and particularly quick (good and fast)

This showed that being good is only marginally better than being quick. Both are necessary and neither, alone, is enough if you want to be an exceptional leader today.

Based on these findings, and findings from our i4 neuro-science based 360 assessments, those being fast and effective versus those who deliberate or who are like a bull in a china shop, demonstrate five particular keys to being an exceptional leader:


Clarity emits an energy based on intention and having a bigger vision for a clear outcome, one that serves yourself and others, so that the scenario is a complete win/win. Too many people haven’t quite got the ‘serve others’ bit down pat and as a result, the equation will never equal the greater sum. We are inspired to action by those who have a strong vision, and to gain clarity around that vision is to first dream and create new pathways of possibilities in our brain, and therefore our thinking. When we have this clarity, momentum is created and we pick up our pace helping us achieve our results faster.


To create new ways of thinking, it is important to build new mental muscles. One way is by asking the question ‘what if…’ more often, of yourself and others, to allow your creativity to come through. Another way is to go for a walk, have a shower, a game of golf, daydream or have downtime, where our brain waves will drop from that manic ‘gamma’ state where not a lot of creativity happens to the ‘alpha’ state where we can kick start innovative ideas. The secret lies in giving yourself time out in order to achieve that, even when you believe you are time poor, to allow the logic and rational part of your brain to rest, paradoxically strengthening your creative muscles to help with the logical decision you need to make.


All relationships are based on trust. People will align themselves with people they know, like and trust and from a neuro-science perspective where trust is involved, greater levels of the hormone oxytocin or ‘the love drug’ that creates bonding shows up. By taking time out to get to know your team, by spending five minutes longer by explaining ‘how and why’ something is important, by asking an extra question to a client, by understanding what someone’s objectives that might usually be considered ‘time wasting’ or an interruption, will result in higher levels of trust and collaboration when done on purpose, therefore creating greater and more timely results.


Courage doesn’t just mean bungy jumping or cave diving. It also means making timely and sometimes risky decisions with not a lot of information to go on. You might get it wrong but you might get it right. Sometimes we don’t have time to do all the background checks or base our decisions on logic. Sometimes trusting our heart or our gut is all that we have. Whilst it has been recognized we have three brains – our head, our heart and our gut, our decision making and courage in doing something will usually reference a memory from one or another of those three brains that will impact a decision or a choice we make. We may tend to search for evidence of past events and base our decisions on those memories and results. Sometimes those memories may inhibit us or allow for self-sabotage, slowing down our momentum and limiting our ability to risk. Those who make those decisions and don’t linger, who use their gut or heart to discern what is right at that time, tend to be stronger leaders ,not just because they demonstrate personal courage, but because they create greater levels of respect along the way.


Someone who demonstrates expertise, knows their stuff. They learn their craft, their product knowledge, their company policies, their industry trends and they understand what makes their people tick at a personal values level. They know what’s important so they can align personal goals with business goals. By getting buy in from others, learning it’s OK to continually involve others in learning, letting go the ego of not knowing everything can have a dramatic impact on speed to market and more informed decisions.

The speed and agility with which we undertake any thing we do, will impact our attitude to that task. When we are moving along at a steady, yet fast pace (not manic) we tend to feel like we are achieving and a certain energy and momentum is created.

This energy adds to the culture of the team, it uplifts, it inspires and it creates the cut through you are more than likely looking for in this competitive world.

So as a leader, what can you do to help lead your team more effectively?

Which of these five keys will unlock greater results and shorten time to market for you and your team?

Slow and steady no longer wins the race and fast and manic is clearly the wrong pace!

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

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Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.

BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.

Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.

Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.

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