Management consultants wear many hats – advisor, change agent, devil’s advocate. Sometimes we find ourselves in the role of therapist. I sat down for coffee last week with Tom, a recently fired Chief Sales Officer (CSO). Over the course of the hour, Tom shared many confessions about his recent failure. Time and distance have a way of bringing personal insight.
A frequently cited statistic notes the average tenure of a CSO is less than 24 months. Yet, this can be a misleading data-point. In our work, we see many CSO who are thriving, leading transformations and driving growth. These leaders survive beyond the two-year mark and build solid track-records of success. Others struggle, too often the victim of self-inflicted wounds. And this was very much the case with Tom, the fired CSO.
Our casual chat quickly evolved into a post-mortem on his troubled tenure. With Tom’s permission, I summarize four important learnings:
It’s a raw irony of life that we learn the most from our failures. New CSOs can choose to not be another depressing tenure statistic. It all starts with a few early, smart decisions.
Contact us to hear more lessons learned from successful new CSOs. For those sales leaders in need of a coffee-fueled therapy session, the first cup is always on us.