There is a powerful paragraph in the introduction to one of my favorite books, Ender’s Game. The book, written by Orson Scott Card, is based upon an insight that he discovered while reading a three-volume history of the Civil War. That insight caused him to write the short, award-winning, science fiction classic, and it offers much for sales managers and sales leaders to consider when thinking about their results. That paragraph is this:
I learned that history is shaped by the use of power, and that different people, leading the same army, with, therefore, approximately the same power, applied it so differently that the army seemed to change from a pack of noble fools at Fredericksburg to panicked cowards melting away at Chancellorsville, then to a grimly determined, stubborn soldiers who held the ridges at Gettysburg, and then, finally, to the disciplined, professional army that ground Lee to dust in Grant’s long campaign. It wasn’t the soldiers who changed. It was the leader. And even though I could not have then articulated what I understood of military leadership, I knew that I did understand it. I understood, at levels deeper than speech, how a great military leader imposes his will on his enemy, and makes his own army a willing extension of himself.
Differences That Make a Difference
It is difficult to capture the differences in management and leadership. The difference is difficult to articulate, but Card sums it up well in two sentences:
“It wasn’t the soldiers who changed. It was the leader.”
Those two sentences explain perfectly how one sales manager can fail and another sales manager can achieve wild success with the very same group of salespeople. The difference is leadership.
The following sentences add two ideas as to how Grant succeeded where others failed. He “imposed his will” on his enemy. In sales, we compete aggressively, but we don’t have enemies. Instead, we have to impose our will in the markets we serve. Grant also made “the army a willing extension of himself.” His army willingly fought and achieved his objectives. They made his objectives their own objectives.
This short post and Card’s paragraph answers a lot of questions. But really understanding and utilizing it to produce greater results requires that you answer a few more, questions that you alone can answer.
What are the differences in leadership and management?
How does one impose her will?
What is that will that you would impose?
How does one make his force a willing extension of himself?
Having read this, what will you change? How will you change?