We all know a sales manager or two like Brad Hutchinson, the main character in Brian Souza’s new book. Seems like they always have three things:
- amazing numbers,
- endless confidence,
- and no clue how to manage people.
But how do you break it to them that they should be more concerned about leadership than their own leads?
In The Weekly Coaching Conversation: A Business Fable About Taking Your Game and Your Team to the Next Level, Souza has created an short, breezy tale in order to teach such managers how to become true leaders. The story begins with Brad heading out to a local bar to toast his “Sales Leader of the Year” award, as well as his general awesomeness. He invites his whole team out to celebrate, but when he gets stood up by the lot of them, he’s forced to question all that he set out to celebrate. Luckily, “Coach” Mick Donnelly is at the bar and easily explains why Brad’s all alone.
“You said that you crushed your number, right? Well… how many people on your team crushed theirs?” Coach asks.
Their subsequent conversation kicks off a series of meetings in which Coach imparts leadership wisdom in a raucous, digestible way. At first, Brad reacts the way that you would think an arrogant Sales Leader of the Year might. But because he wants to know what he’s doing wrong, he resists the urge to roll his eyes and plays along.
Although Souza leans particularly heavily on the sports analogies, he brings in examples as diverse as Mother Theresa and the Napoleonic Wars. This helps make up for the lack of development in his secondary characters, whom often seem like afterthoughts. But then, this book is clearly aiming for the proverbial, not the Pulitzer.
I’m not sure why the book doesn’t make a clear connection between the weekly meetings between Brad and Coach and the meetings that Coach is trying to teach Brad to have with his team members (the latter apparently being the source for the book’s title). Maybe Souza was just trying to be subtle, but the cyclical, “coaching the coach” nature of mentorship seemed to be one key point that he failed to drive home.
The points Souza does hammer home are clear and clever enough for even the most self-absorbed Brad Hutchinson-type to get. Souza writes in a way that reads effortlessly, but still manages to convey meaning and impress lessons. Every time Brad jots a key point in his notebook or Coach tells him to “write this down,” readers get a cue to whip out their highlighters and focus, a pretty smart teaching technique on Souza’s part.
The book won’t be officially released until August 21, which should give you plenty of time to figure out how to get it into the hands of that sales manager you know who really needs it.