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3 Lessons for Medical Sales Leaders From Google’s Top Leadership Qualities

Leaders at Google used to believe that managers don’t matter all that much. So they set out to prove it. But through their research, Project Oxygen, they learned this initial hypothesis was actually wrong. Teams with top-notch managers were more productive and happier. 

Surprised by the results, leaders at Google set out to find what made these managers so great. With a little more research, they identified the traits of the most successful managers. 

These traits can help medical sales leaders be successful, too. But implementing the qualities of a good leader will look a little different in a medical sales setting. Here’s a look at how you can take the top leadership qualities Google identified and apply them to be a more successful medical sales leader:

Coach your sales reps

Google’s best managers are also great coaches. Being a traditional leader and being a coach are extremely different. A traditional leader is cut-and-dry with directions. He or she makes the plans, delegates work, and moves on with their day. Coaches, on the other hand, include employees in decision making. They act less like a director and more like a consultant.

In the same way, medical sales leaders must focus on guiding sales reps to a successful strategy that works for them. Let employees come to the table with their ideas and offer a helping hand or input when you see they’re not on the right track. 

Stop micromanaging and start empowering

No one wants to work with a manager breathing down their neck. That’s why empowering without micromanaging is one of Google’s top leadership qualities. 

In medical sales, this trait may even be more important. Medical sales reps are independent by nature. When a leader micromanages, sales reps are more likely to become frustrated and disengage from their work. They may feel stifled and be so unhappy that they leave the company. 

Although you may think micromanaging will help get things done more quickly in the here and now, it’s not going to do any good in the long-run. Stop focusing on micromanaging for the short term and start empowering employees to be successful now and in the future. 

Use exercises that will help sales reps behave, act, and think in a way that promotes the company’s values and instills confidence in their sales skills. Give them the tools to succeed and trust them to get the job done. 

Build a supportive team

Creating inclusive environments and showing concern for employees’ success and well-being are also top leadership qualities Google identified. Good leaders don’t see employees as working machines — they see a complete person. 

Even in a competitive, numbers-driven environment like medical sales, employees want to work together on close-knit teams and feel their manager cares about their needs. In fact, 61 percent of medical sales reps surveyed in our 2019 Medical Sales Salary Report said work-life balance is more important than money. What’s more, 54 percent said a focus on team building and collaboration is the most important quality in an employer. 

As a medical sales leader, it’s challenging not to constantly focus on the end goal — hitting sales numbers. However, a successful leader knows that the key to hitting those numbers is a healthy, well-rounded team. Show employees you’re focused on creating a united team by setting aside time specifically for team bonding. Try weekly happy hours, lunches, or other outings — whatever works for your team.

Also, show employees your support and let them know you’re available to help. Ask what they need from you to help them be more successful both professionally and personally. 

What leadership qualities do you think are the most important in medical sales? 

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