Amir Ghannad | Transformative Leadership

Sales teams, manufacturing plants… whole companies. Every part of every business needs effective leadership to thrive. But what makes for a good leader?

Consultant and author Amir Ghannad explains how to become the type of leader that gets buy-in from employees… and inspires them to do their very best work.

It’s a process that often includes removing some mental blocks you might not know you have.

We also explore…

  • The role of tools and systems in leadership
  • Why – and how – to earn employees’ trust
  • How to identify a system problem versus a people problem
  • The difference between commitment and attachment
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode Transcript:

Michael Webb: Hello. Some people focus on sound skills like reaching decision makers or internet marketing. Other people focus on work processes like measuring data and systems thinking, but not many people talk about how these can be brought together to motivate people and create wealth for everyone, and that’s what we discuss in the sales process excellence podcast. I’m Michael Webb, and today I am really excited for you to meet my guest, Amir Ghannad, the author of The Transformative Leader: Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary. Amir, welcome to the show.

Amir Ghannad: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Michael Webb: I am really looking forward to our discussion because your topic, leadership, is so critical to sales and marketing organizations, and a ton, a ton has been written about that in the sales profession and in the leadership community of leading companies, but a lot of what’s out there repeats some version of things that, at least in the sales profession, people have been talking about for 40 years or more.

Things like ‘six ways to motivate your sales team to close more deals’, or ‘how to better select sales candidates’. And there are a few authors who address in your personal side of leadership and what leadership really is, but in my view, they’re missing a lot of awfully crucial elements that salespeople and the companies they work for desperately need.

So when I saw you speak at the Shingo Conference here in Atlanta a couple of years ago and I got your book, I was really impressed, and you offer some really key pieces of the puzzle, and I know that there’s people in my audience that are going to be really interested to learn about your point of view and your approach to this.

So before we get started, could you tell us where you came from, and what you’ve done in your career that’s earned your reputation in this arena? I suspect that a lot of people coming from a sales and marketing background, or an engineering background, they may not know about your work.

Amir Ghannad: Thank you so much. Again, thank for having me on. I’m glad to talk to your audience about this topic because I’m really passionate about spreading the message of transformative leadership, and how it applies to various industries.

I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. If I go way back, I grew up in Iran, came to the States when I was 16 years old on my own, and eventually got my education. I have a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and later on got an MBA. I started working for Proctor & Gamble in 1985 and was with them for about 19 years. Different parts of the world, spent five years in Thailand, three years in Germany, and different places in the U.S. Then I left and joined Sunny Delight Beverages Company. I was with them for about eight and a half years, and finally in the last part of my corporate career I spent three years with Campbell Soup leading the global excellence effort there. At a variety of locations and all that.

Two years ago I left, so I rewired, and essentially I’m doing this on my own with my family. We’re the Ghannad Group. And I do leadership coaching and consulting, I basically guide leaders in creating extraordinary cultures that deliver breakthrough results. So that’s a little bit about me and how I got here.

Michael Webb: So give us a little thumbnail description of… I guess there’s two questions here. A thumbnail description and example to sort of concretize the problems that a leader of an organization has. So you were a plant manager at one time as I understand, and you were faced with some pretty awful demands and requirements, and then the undesirable things that were going on among the people in the organization and what you had to do to fix that. I guess that’s the first question, and maybe that would answer the second question which is, explain what transformative leadership means. What do you mean by that?

Amir Ghannad: Sure. I had 19 years under my belt, essentially. I had a pretty good amount of success when I came into an assignment that turned out to be the greatest challenge of my career, and basically took over leadership of the plant that had been doing pretty well historically. But they didn’t have a lot of demand on their time, essentially, they could make everything they needed in three days or so. But then the company was acquired right around when I came in, and complexity went up, volume went up, and the style of leadership that was being used at the time just was not sufficient. So we very quickly found ourselves being the worst plant in the company, and we were a critical part of the company, as we produced about a third of all the product that was produced at the company.

So we really were forced into a situation where we had to figure out a better way. And quite honestly this notion of transformative leadership came from that I thought I was pretty good at doing what I was doing, and nothing that I had learned in the past was working. So I had to really do a lot of soul-searching to figure out what’s going on, and that is when I really discovered that if I’m going to make any positive impact, it has to start with me. Because I was, I hate to admit, but for some time I was quite self-righteous. I was looking out there saying, hey, only if my bosses got how awesome I was, things would be better. I wish these people in this plant would trust me and do what I said. It was everybody else’s fault.

But that at some point in this journey it really hit me that, you know what, if it’s to be it’s up to me. I am the greatest barrier. So I started really developing a lot of insights just for myself, and then I started coaching the people in the plant, the lowest levels. And ultimately, what we did was we ended up turning the plant around from being the worst to the best within about a year and a half, and that’s how I got into more sort of broad-scale speaking, because I took that message out on the road and things like that.

So the second part of your question, just to say a couple more words about that, is for me, transformative leadership has to do with going beyond just learning new leadership skills, and being transformed. So in part of the training, puts some information and some knowledge of the tools on you. But transformative training causes you to see what’s in your way so we can get it out of your way and show up as the transformative leader that you already are. So what I have in my book, and what I speak on is really about everybody recognizing that they’re already a leader, and the reason they don’t show up that way and the reason they don’t feel that way from time to time is that there’s something in the way, and these are what I call the hidden saboteurs of success and fulfillment. When you get those out of the way, you find yourself showing up as the transformative leader that’s going to have an impact on the lives of people around them.

Michael Webb: So, I know right away that that whole tone and that whole approach is going to resonate with really good salespeople. Because everybody has to grow up in their life and learn to recognize when they’re, as they say, “telling,” instead of selling. And often they have to unlearn the sales training that they got earlier in their career and not be thinking about what their question is they’re going to ask next or how they’re going to overcome this objection. They have to quiet themselves and deeply listen to what the customer is saying, and be able to utilize that information to ask even better questions of them. And it is a transformation that people have to make within themselves. They have to become self-aware in how they’re projecting themselves and conduct themselves in a manner that accounts for what they’re perceiving from the people.

Amir Ghannad: Absolutely. I think… I sort of cut my teeth on this stuff in manufacturing. I spent 31 years in most of that time in the corporate world within manufacturing and supply chain but toward the latter part of my career… The other functions began to notice that this stuff was really working, so they started pulling me in and said to me afterward as a consultant. I have worked with finance groups and service groups and marketing groups, and one thing I can tell you is it’s important to have some functional mastery and expertise in what you do. So as a salesperson, it’s great to have the tools and the methodologies and that kind of thing, but you know what, a lot of times your effectiveness is not determined by whether you’re a functional expert or not. Because there are a lot of functional experts out there. The difference is made by who you are and how you show up. Let me bring with you, how are you perceived?

That is often the result, the direct result of what’s going on in your head. I was just thinking about, how can I sell this thing to these people and what’s that next thing I’m going to say, and what kind of scheme can I use, and all this, then you show up a certain way, and you know what, nobody wants to deal with you. But if you really do some… Basically, understand a little bit what’s going on with you, have a little bit of self-awareness, then you can use those tools and methodologies so much more effectively.

Michael Webb: So could you give us an example from your experience of an undesirable, I call it an undesirable result? A problem that someone in the organization you were leading was having, and what you discovered you were bringing to the party that prevented them from seeing the problem or from improvement from taking place? One of those barriers you were talking about. If you could illustrate that, it would make it more concrete.

Amir Ghannad: Yeah, absolutely. We have tons of examples of that. I’ll bring up one of the examples that I have. The ones that are really near and dear to my heart are the ones where people have actually taken these concepts and made a difference in their own personal life, and the results that we get at work are kind of always there.

But I had this one guy. We talk about some of the training that I do, I talk about 100% commitment versus 50-50 commitment. You could be 100% committed to something and what that means is no matter what kind of barriers come your way and that sort of thing, you’re going to push through and you’re going to make it happen. But if you’re 50-50 committed, if your commitment is conditional and partial, then what happens is you’re just basically looking for an excuse to say “I’ve done my part.”

And over the years, I have tons of examples of when the light bulb goes off for people, they just go out and deliver extraordinary results. So I’ll give you two very quick examples of that. One was a fellow that was in a three-hour session with me, and several months, about four months after the session, I heard that he had lost 30 pounds. And I went and talked to him, and he was telling everyone it was because of the session. And I went and talked to him, and he said, “You know, I had basically gotten off track with my eating and exercise and all that, and after that session, every single day I woke up and I said ‘Are you 100% or are you 50-50?'” And he got basically back on track, and the last time I spoke to him he had lost 60 pounds, he had gone back to school and gotten his graduate degree, which he had basically given up on, and he ended up marrying the woman that he was about to break up with, in his own words because “he was a jerk.” So great things started happening for him.

There was another fellow that basically was about to get fired. He was in the third and final step of our disciplinary process, and we had several conversations and coaching sessions and all of this kind of stuff, and the light bulb went off for him, and actually he began to take responsibility. To say, look, I’m not going to look for somebody else to change this for me. I take responsibility for this. And I tell you, that person has gotten five promotions since then and is absolutely the highest contributor in the organization that they’re in right now.

So there are lots of examples, when you see this light bulb of whatever’s holding you back, you’re not depending on somebody else to remove that barrier, you remove the barrier and you become really empowered to make things happen.

Michael Webb: There’s a few examples from the military of leadership. And what you were saying, I’m trying to remember… It’s not coming to mind right now, but that issue of commitment is clearly a component of what they’re talking about. And I guess the leader has to demonstrate that in order to help the light bulb go off, right?

Amir Ghannad: Yeah. To me, the leader’s job is to create the conditions in which everyone is willingly signing up to be 100% committed. Often times leaders go around sort of beating people up and all that, and all they’re looking for is compliance. You just want them to do a job and that’s what you’re looking for. And maybe that’ll work for you, for some period of time. But if you’re looking for commitment, you’re never going to make people commit. That’s something that people have to offer by their free will. So to me, it’s about creating the conditions.

Now, what does that look like? From time to time it might be providing the right training and support. From time to time it might be showing your care and concern. Sometimes it might be bringing the right systems in place to make the job a little bit easier for people. Personal integrity. Just recognizing and demonstrating that these are people in the organization, they’re not machines, and you care about them. So there are a lot of different ways in which you earn people’s trust, and at the end of the day, there comes a moment of truth where they offer up their commitment. And it’s priceless when they do that. And you no longer have to look over their shoulder and tell them what to do.

Michael Webb: Right, right. Alright. So then let me ask this question, because not all organization, the processes that are in those organizations are actually capable of achieving the results that the company desires, and in a situation like that, even if you get the commitment of the people, it’s not going to succeed. So how do you distinguish between when it’s a systemic problem and when it’s an individual problem?

Amir Ghannad: I would always go far back on the fact that it is always a commitment issue. The reason is this; in some organizations, the way the systems are falling apart and they’re not working, if the people are committed, if the leaders have truly taken on this role of servant leadership and they have gotten the organization to the point where they’re committed, people are often smart enough to come up with a solution or at least make a proposal or push for the right thing, and in those organizations they end up putting the right systems in place because the commitment is there to close that gap.

Where the problem comes in is that in many organizations, there’s not this commitment. There’s this, I see this system is broken and it’s taking me so many more hours to do this, it’s reducing my productivity or my performance, but you know what, I’m not going to go against the system, because they don’t have any interest in listening to me. So I think if the leaders take it from a position of, look, I know that most of our problems are not people problems, they’re system problems, people want to be part of something extraordinary, that the way that I solve that problem is A) if I see a system that is broken, you know what, I need to fix it. I need to improve it so I can empower the people so they can have a system to work with. But B) I need to create the conditions to where everybody feels like they are part of the solution, and they want to go that extra mile to bring up the suggestions and solve these problems

Michael Webb: And I guess it’s that attitude and mentality that hopefully will create an interest and a need for some of the tools that are introduced in process improvement.

Amir Ghannad: I really believe… I want to make sure that I’m real clear that I’m not suggesting that organizations just sort of inspire people and just sing Kumbaya and all of this kind of stuff and don’t really pay attention to tools. Ultimately tools and systems are the things that are going to help us deliver the results. What I am suggesting is that often times organizations have this false sense of progress when they install a brand new system or they put in a new tool. And then they just kind of say, you know what, you’ve got this tool, what’s wrong with you? Just go make it happen. And you know what, there’s a human element to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen really failed attempts at really shifting the system by putting an IT system in place that nobody’s using. So I think it’s really important to have process excellence and the right leadership behaviors and attitudes at all levels of the organization, but they’ve got to go hand in hand.

Michael Webb: So I once did some work with a team and the salespeople were all engineers, and … So, you know, they’re sort of process oriented. And we got them to go through the work of defining first the stages the customer goes through, and they agreed on that, and then the stages that the salespeople themselves had to go through in order to help the customer make those action steps, but it was clear that they were not committed. They were not bought in. And as we did the why, why, why on that, the reason became real obvious. Because the sales force was constantly being put in the position of, they’re selling a complex engineered packing equipment product, and they might have a nine-month lead time, so seven months out, two months before ship day, they get a message from the engineering team, “Um, you know that modification we quoted for you guys seven months ago? Well, we found out that it’s not going to work the way we thought and so it’s going to be another three months and another $200,000.” And the sales force had to put their company face on and go out and give the customer this bad news, and the customer had already laid the concrete and put the conduit out there and the power and hydraulics and they were ready to go, and here we can’t deliver.

So, to the sales force, what’s the point of having a process, if we’re not going to deliver on the commitments that we made? It’s just very, very… So when we got that out on the table, we were able to bring the president of the company in, and presented this process to them, and told them about this problem. And he was able to say, there was one decision block, decision diamond right in the middle of the process, that said “We commit to this quote.” He said “If you guys follow the process, and we get to that point and we accept the quote, I will absolutely go to bat for you with the rest of the company, and say that we’re accountable for delivering on that stuff, and it’s our problem, not the customer’s problem when we screw up.” Boy. The eyes lit up around the room. That enabled them to buy in.

So is that the kind of thing that you’re talking about?

Amir Ghannad: Yeah, absolutely. I think for me, a lot of organizations, unfortunately, operate in silos, and they kind of feel like, hey, we’re on our own, and if we don’t protect ourselves, then those guys are not going to deliver on their commitments and all that, so I think that’s absolutely it. We need to be committed to making sure that we not only have a process in place and follow it, but not only that, it’s like, why is it that one department doesn’t feel like they can at least serve up the early signs of trouble, and they often wait until seven months into this journey? Because I’m sure somebody had some indications at some point. So, I want people to not only follow the process, but also go beyond the process and say look, I’m going to go out of my way to really communicate very clearly, and not try to sort of protect myself or my function. Because that way, we just all sort of say hey, you know what, sometimes things happen, and we have to come together and deal with it. But don’t wait until the last minute because you skipped this part of the process and you just didn’t want to come and talk to me to lay this down on me, and now I have a huge problem.

Michael Webb: So I’m guessing that you would say that the approach that you’re taking, this sort of transparency that a leader must take on, and vulnerability that they must display in order to demonstrate that they too are committed, that’d fall into the category of the Deming principles of respect for people?

Amir Ghannad: Absolutely.

Michael Webb: Are there any other of the Deming principles that you think relate to leadership here?

Amir Ghannad: Deming absolutely, of course, was ahead of his time, and there’s nothing that he said that I would say I disagree with. I think one of the things that I remember when I first started thirty some odd years ago in a tissue plant, and that’s when I started learning about Deming and those principles. We had a person filling up the packer and this person had these packages of tissues, toilet tissue, going by them at 300 packages a minute. And they were supposed to inspect every one of these packages to make sure there were no holes in the package or anything like that. And imagine, at three o’clock in the morning, you’re kind of half sleepy, and this is happening, and by the way, if one got through and QA found it, then you were sent home or something like that, because you messed up.

So at that point, I really got very creative with, what Deming talks about, the process. It’s not the people. That’s what it’s all about. Let’s make sure that we have the best process and not blame the people. So that to me kind of stuck with me, to say, if something goes wrong, I’m not going to automatically assume that people are lazy, it’s all their fault and all of this. I’m going to assume that everybody wants to be part of something extraordinary. So something was missing here. So, I’m going to support them, I’m going to create the conditions in which we can together fix the system, or in some cases, if they have a problem where occasionally, sometimes you have a performance problem. You’re not going to have 100% superstars maybe, because people make different choices. In those cases, we treat those people with respect and dignity, but we’re very clear with them and we hold them to high standards so that they can find the way to rise to the occasion and make these things happen. So to me, all of that is really aligned with Dr. Deming’s principles.

Michael Webb: Another question, and this could sound a little off the wall. As you’re describing this, and I’m agreeing, and I have to ask an example from a sales situation. I’ve seen this in multiple instances and I remember in particular a client situation where the business is highly dependent upon extremely effective salespeople, and they have to do some research with a small group of people in prospect, and then they have to gather that information that they’ve assembled, what they’ve learned, and judgments they’ve made about the people, they have to make a presentation to them to present value and get them to do what we would want them to do. And very clearly, some people are extremely effective at doing it, and other people are not so effective at doing it. And they both call themselves salespeople, and they’ve both been through sales training before, but there’s just a difference in the way some people are able to do it versus others. Now if it’s not about the people, it’s about the process, how do you address that? How do you understand that?

Amir Ghannad: Again, I don’t think that even Dr. Deming is saying that people are never the issue. I think that he’s suggesting, and what I’m certainly suggesting is that you either start with, do people have adequate processes to work with? So as a leader, my role is to make sure that the right tool and right process is in place, and as I mentioned before, it’s not just my job. My job also is to create conditions in which people also become part of the solution and improving the systems in processes.

But in the example that you shared, I think the first question is, do we have the right process? And if you have some people who are using the same process and delivering brilliant results and you have that an overwhelming number that tells you there’s nothing wrong with the process, if you establish that, then I think it’s important to say why is it that we see people are not effective? Is it that they are missing some skills? Is it that they don’t have the right mindset in approaching this? Is it that they haven’t had enough training or experience? I think then it becomes really important once you get past this thing of, just don’t jump into blaming people first, but check the system first. If the system’s adequate, then you say okay, how can I empower, enable, support this individual to be as successful as they want to be? And that I think is the key– the sequence of that.

Michael Webb: So let’s dive into that a little more, if you will. Because when you analyze those situations, the process that’s taking place, first of all, it’s largely invisible, right? And in sales, when they present and teach you a process, it is often just the very rudiments. There’s a lot more to it when you’re listening to someone and how you decide what follow-up question to ask. It’s not that it cannot be articulated, but it is that it can be very sophisticated, what people are doing between their ears as they’re taking in the perceptions: body language, emotion, judgments of how to play a situation. You can define it in a rudimentary way in the process, and train people on it, but there is a lot of nuance that can take place after you’ve had experience with it.

So it’s not that it’s not duplicatable, it is that some people end up being way more proficient way more easily. And if they don’t have a practice of articulating that stuff so that they know why they’re doing what they’re doing, then it’s very difficult to communicate it. Most organizations don’t have that practice, and they don’t know if they have a good process or not. There’s a lot of complexity in that.

Amir Ghannad: That is very true. But you know what, the results are parallel to that to leadership. Because we could send…

Michael Webb: Yes.

Amir Ghannad: Two or three to the leadership classes, and give them the same tools and all that, but really their demeanor, and how they show up, and how they come across, and what the processing… If somebody’s talking to them, do they look them in the eye or are they giving them a sort of feeling that they’re kind of distant. So a lot of nuance is involved in just about everything you look at.

To me, what’s important is, in that situation, it’s very difficult for a person to self-diagnose. When I was going through my challenges in that role that I mentioned to you, for quite some time I was trying to diagnose myself. I was going, what the heck is going on with me, and so on and so forth. You just don’t see it. I think it’s important for you again to have the kind of relationships or create the kind of space for you to get the right kind of feedback. So in the case of a salesperson, I would say it’s important for somebody outside of that person, a company rep person, observe, listen, things like that to provide some feedback.

I had one of the technicians in my plant come into my office one day at 3:30 in the afternoon, he was operated this case packer and he got off his shift and he came into my office, he closed the door and he turned to me and said “Amir, you know what, you’re talking the talk but you’re not walking the walk.” And he enlightened me on something that just was completely hidden from my view. Something I delegated, but now I was talking about it, but I wasn’t really doing the follow-through to make sure it was done. And that was the greatest gift for me, and it’s something I couldn’t have done for myself. So I would say that it comes to those nuances. It’s really important for someone outside of that person to get close enough to observe some of these things.

Quite honestly a lot of the stuff that I do is applicable to everybody, whether you’re a salesperson or you’re an engineer. It has to do with self-awareness. These are the kinds of things that usually sabotage people from actually actualizing and delivering what they intend to deliver. So, they go in their head, and they’re thinking about themselves and their paycheck, “What if I don’t make this sale,” and all that, and whatever’s going on out there is not going to be great.

Michael Webb: Right. So let me ask you another question. And again, this one’s a little bit off the wall, but I want to see how you respond. Because it is endemic, I guess that’s the right word, to the sales profession. Especially in most modern B-to-B corporations. If you had to take over a production facility and you have these people, at various stages of maturity and expertise and attitude and all that, but the organization does not have the fundamental measurements to tell when someone’s adding value and when they’re not adding value– what work adds value, what work doesn’t add value. Are we going to make our production quota by the end of the day, or by the end of the month, or by the end of the year? What is good quality, what is not good quality. You haven’t got any of that stuff. How do you proceed?

Amir Ghannad: I think there’s some metrics that need to be in place in every organization. And those metrics are really in two categories; one is the output measure. You could call them leading and lagging measures. Output measures or in-process measures. Because sometimes we get the output because we got lucky. But sometimes if you look at the in-process measures, if you dig a little bit deeper, you say this person has so much more downtime than everybody else, in the case of a production operation. Or this person’s sales numbers are 50% less than everybody else. Then I think what you have to do is dig in a little bit more, to say what are some of the fundamental, tell-tale signs that we could be looking for along the way that says “this person is really falling short”?

In terms of a salesperson, are they making the right number of calls? What does their reach look like? Do they just kind of stay with what they’re comfortable with? I can’t specifically articulate a lot of those measures, but what does the next layer, where we can say, if you do these fundamental things right, then you are going to improve your performance? So let’s look at how well you’re doing with the fundamentals.

Michael Webb: Yes. Okay. That’s good. I agree with that. One of the challenges that I see in sales is that we sort of tend to assume that sales is about what salespeople do. But there’s more to the story than that. And the causes of challenges that salespeople face may or may not be in the sales department. So you have to step back and take a more systemic view of it and what… The customer goes through these stages, and what is the customer really trying to accomplish? And what value are we creating for the customer in our communications with them, in our advertisements, our newsletters, our product brochures, our spec sheets, our quotations? Are we really giving the customer what they want? Are we really helping them, or are we trying to get something for ourselves all the time, is that how we’re perceived? And that’s a ticklish and can be challenging thing for organizations to deal with because they’ve got to bring the revenue in every quarter.

Amir Ghannad: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is … The distinction I talk about is commitment versus attachment. You can be committed to delivering extraordinary results and making the sale and so on and so forth, but if you’re attached to it to the point where you’re so scared that if you don’t make this happen, something is going to happen to you, or Jeez, I really want to do whatever it takes to make this happen, then you kind of lose sight of what’s really important.

In the case of sales, I’m not a trained salesperson, but I am in business for myself, and there’s a sales element to it. I know just that naturally the approach that I take is if I talk to somebody a couple times, and I send them a proposal, and they end up deciding to go a different way, I go out of my way to make sure that they know I appreciate being considered, and I even offer to them at some point, if you have any questions, don’t feel like you have to hire me, just give me a call back or something like that. And I cannot tell you how many times people have come back six months later, nine months later, saying “That one didn’t work out, but we’d like you to come and speak at this event.”

By contrast, I can tell you, a few years ago I picked up the phone in my office on my way to a meeting, but I thought “You know what, let me just answer this phone.” And there was a salesperson who starts to give this pitch, and I’m like “Look, I’m on my way to a meeting, if I can have your phone number, I’ll call you back.” He says, “I’m not going to give you my phone number, ’cause you’re not going to call back.” I was trying to be nice to the guy, but he’s so belligerent, I say “Listen, I completely respect your choice. You have two choices; if you give me your number, I may call you back. If you don’t give me your number, I definitely won’t call you back, so what are you going to do?” And he hung up on me.

You know what, somebody like that, my gosh. People can tell when somebody is just putting on a face and putting on a show. You don’t want to be like that. So a lot of times, the reason you’re not getting sales is not because you’re not going through the motions and all that, it’s who you’re being. Are you showing up? What are you bringing into the space? And that’s the kind of stuff that has to do with self-awareness.

Michael Webb: Yes. And so companies, in order to help salespeople succeed have to also create an environment where they can show up the right way and reflect back to them, give them some feedback somehow when they’re not showing up the right way.

Amir Ghannad: Yes. And let’s face it, a lot of times the reason that people move up in organizations is because they did a good job in their previous job and all that, so what we end up doing is we have to fill critical leadership positions or sales positions where they learned through the school of hard knocks, they never had any… The stuff I teach about self-awareness and all that, you can get a PhD and never be exposed to it. So, unless you’re intentional about exposing your people to this sort of thing, what they’re going to do is they’re going to rely on what they know, and sometimes that’s adequate, sometimes they naturally can make it happen, and often times they don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know.

So I think it’s really important to get them exposure to those kinds of things that they’ve never been exposed to so they can see these hidden saboteurs that are in their way, get them out of the way, and then go make it happen.

Michael Webb: And that touches on a topic that I find fascinating, but we, unfortunately, won’t have time to get into it today, it’s the whole, I call it philosophy of how the mind works. How our own mind works, how other people’s mind works, and our ability to understand that and be curious about it and leverage it can be extremely valuable to ourselves and to other people.

Amir Ghannad: Absolutely.

Michael Webb: So, topic for another day. Amir, I want to thank you very much for your energy and your insight. Really, really good book. The whole concept of commitment and dealing with certainty, a bunch of surprises in what you have put together there, and it just really really rings true. So, I highly recommend it to my audience, in fact I’m probably going to do a review of it here in the next few weeks and I’ll publish that as a blog post.

If someone wants to get a hold of you and learn more about you and learn about the book, where should they go?

Amir Ghannad: Thank you so much Mike for having me on, I really really enjoyed this conversation. The book The Transformative Leader is available on my website, where I also publish weekly blog posts and podcasts on leadership, culture transformation, all kinds of things of this sort. So the website is, and in case you can’t remember my name, you can go to and that will bring you to my website as well.

Michael Webb: That’s pretty brilliant. Good for you. I would love to have you on again in the future, so thank you very much, and we’ll be talking again soon, I hope.

Amir Ghannad: Absolutely. Thank you so much.


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Comment:

Verified by MonsterInsights