I stumbled upon a blog posting I had saved from June: Culture Change? Pope Francis Shows Us How and thought about how the leaders I’ve worked with often express concern about how difficult it is to change their selling culture. Just imagine how Pope Francis feels. He’s trying to change a culture which is steeped in ritual and history going back 2,000 years!

Blog author Connie Meyer enumerates what Pope Francis does that all great leaders should be doing. It seems that Pope Francis and I are in agreement about what is required for successful cultural change, based on my experience of working with numerous organizations to develop a culture of selling excellence. Allow me to share my thoughts about the top ones:

  • Vision. People won’t follow you unless they have a great understanding of where you are going. You need to give them a picture of what this new future will look like so they can visualize it.
  • Lead by example. We learn more from what people do than by what they say. Walk the talk. Share your story. Communicate frequently.
  • Direct Attention. The way to lead is to direct attention so people know what’s important. You can’t change everything at once but you can determine what really matters. Once you change the catalyst element, other changes will follow. It becomes a natural course of events.
  • Keep the right people. You need to have the right people working for you. The Pope got rid of those leaders who weren’t a good fit, such as the bishop who spent extravagantly on his new residence. Likewise, team members who don’t share the vision and won’t come on board can do more harm than good.

One word of caution about that last point. Don’t get rid of those folks who disagree with you. That’s one of the problems about being at the top. There are fewer people who feel empowered to tell you when you are wrong. And that’s what we all need. We can disagree with them but it’s good to hear what others think and feel. And as leaders, we make the final decisions.

I’ve found what helped me be successful in sales also helps me be a better leader—and that is to think like the customer. When you are the leader, who is your customer? This varies dependent upon the decision you have to make. It could be your board of directors, your management team, or your sales people. All the different people you come in contact with deserve your attention. When you make a decision that will impact them, think of how they will feel and how they will likely react to this news. You may decide that you need to change how you were going to communicate what you need to say. You may even change your mind about that decision.

Being a leader is tough. But those 4 bullets that I listed can help you succeed—as long as you don’t forget that vital ingredient any leader needs—and that is followers. Be a leader that others want to follow— and use these 4 points as a guide to help you be that leader.