CHAPTER 15 Lead by Principle, Not Policy

I remember walking into a prospective client’s office and being impressed by how exquisite the decor was. It was like what you would imagine a very high-end attorney’s offices would look like, with expensive hardwoods and finishes. Before meeting with the client, I asked whether I could use the restrooms. The restrooms were equally nice! What was odd though was a paper sign taped to the mirror: “Please wash your hands.” Another sign was crudely taped to the door: “Did you remember to flush?” As I was led back to the offices, there were similar signs with reminders beside the copier, in the break room, and in other areas outlining behavior.

My question is: How many people were not flushing the toilet to make the need for a sign? How many were not washing their hands, putting their dishes away, or filling the paper tray on the copier?

My guess is that only a few people created this problem, but rather than address those offenders the person in charge made up signs and rules for everyone. I see the same habit in some sales managers. There might be an issue with one person, but rather than address that issue they’ll issue a new rule or policy to the entire team. This is not the way of the Sales Boss.

The best Sales Bosses lead by principle rather than rules. They trust their team to make good decisions. When someone acts out of harmony with the company’s principles, then they handle it on a case-by-case basis. For example, in many sales ...

Get The Sales Boss now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.