What makes someone a good leader? And what skills should you focus on if you want to hire talent that can lead a team to success? As a recently onboarded Salesforce Marketing Manager, Jurgen Thysmans shares his ideas and experiences.
Last year I gave a guest lecture at my alma mater on values, reputation and the leadership skills needed to become a successful PR professional. During my research, I stumbled upon the story of Marc Benioff. While other CEOs were busy shooting rockets into space, he decided to invest in 1t.org, a sustainability initiative from the World Economic Forum that aims to plant a trillion trees. His aspirations and leadership style intrigued me and led me to do more research. The value-driven approach is one of the main reasons why I believed I would be a good fit for a leadership role in the company. In 2022, I joined Salesforce as a Marketing Manager.
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Values are essential if you want to hire the right person to lead a team. For me, leadership skills are not just about the hard competencies that you see on someone’s diploma. A great leader fits into the company culture, shares the company’s values and can rely on soft skills such as empathy and the ability to communicate. As a leader, you must be able to listen and ask the right questions to really understand a problem. Hard skills can be learned as you go along. For example, when I applied for a job at Salesforce, CRM was not my greatest expertise. My personal strengths lie in communication and figuring out how to appeal to our target audiences with our solutions.
A one-trick pony is tomorrow’s dinosaur. That’s why the desire to constantly learn new things is another essential leadership skill. You cannot have the answer to every problem, which is why communication should always be two-way and you must be open to feedback. It does not necessarily have to be the most senior person in the meeting room who comes up with a great idea. Salesforce really embraces this way of working and applying a beginner’s mindset.
This is also reflected in our focus on the global V2MOM, which is our North Star when it comes to strategy. Everyone within the organisation builds their personal version. It’s a compass you create for yourself that helps you stay on track and in line with the company’s direction. We share our V2MOMs for everyone to see. And whenever you are not clear on your priorities, you can check and discuss them with your team, manager, or other stakeholders. It encourages you to focus on your ‘elephants’, priorities that need your full attention, rather than chasing ‘rabbits’ or details that only distract you.
To gain trust and respect, a leader must also demonstrate ownership. As an army brat, I am a big fan of the book Extreme Ownership, written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two former Navy Seals. Ownership starts from within and is not exclusive to a managerial role. In fact, it is a leadership skill or mindset that can be developed and nurtured. Ownership means having a deep sense of responsibility and not being afraid to be held accountable for your actions and decisions. When a leader demonstrates ownership, it is reflected from top to bottom throughout the organisation.
Learning leadership skills with Trailhead
If you want to work on your own leadership skills, Trailhead is the place to be. It is a platform developed by Salesforce where you can find plenty of free ‘trails’ on being a leader and other skills that are essential to be successful in a modern organisation. Especially during and even before my recruitment process, it has been my guiding star. Here are a few trails that I recommend for people in leadership positions:
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