A Case for Minimalism in Leadership

Why less can be more when it comes to your team

This is one of the descriptions of minimalism provided by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus on their website, theminimalists.com:

Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.

I’ve been exploring the idea of minimalism recently and have applied it mainly to the endless piles of stuff hiding behind the doors, cabinets and drawers of my home.

I’ve taken to heart the reality that things – and the mindset of accumulation that brings them into my home – take me away from the truly important elements of life.

Dude..deep this week. I know 🙂Untitled design (1)


In leading your sales team, are things getting in the way of what really matters the most? The people you serve.

Like, the actual people.

We like to say that it’s all about the people but can find ourselves leading from (or behind) endless reports, devices, systems and processes – all of which can create clutter that shield us from the most important elements of the job.

The parts that truly make a difference and have the most impact.

A few specific thoughts:

PRIORITIES: Feel free to substitute the word INITIATIVES here. How many priorities can your team have, really? I tried hard as a manager to keep the number low, but it was never just one priority or initiative. I’m reading the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown right now and here is his take on priorities:

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400’s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next 500 years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to make courageous decisions about what matters most for our teams and create clarity around them.  Or we can get washed away in the flood of “things” that come our way.

*TIP: take a look at your current business plan and count up how many priorities or initiatives you have in place.  Go ahead, be brave. Take some time to determine if there is any way to minimize that list and zero in on what’s most important and eliminate the noise and clutter.

REPORTS: There’s no question that a few reports in your bag are critical – especially those that relate your goals and budget. Sales is still about selling after all. But what about the 100 other spreadsheets clogging up your desktop?

*TIP: if a report doesn’t bring value to you, your business or your people and you haven’t used it in the last 30 days…delete it. You’ll never know it’s gone.Untitled design (3)

DEVICES: All the technology we’re provided for efficiency and to stay connected is amazing –there is almost nothing we can’t do while traveling in the field. The problem is, we’re now addicted to the pings and buzzing of “connection” in such a way that distracts us from the human beings were with. In short – put your phone away.

*TIP: turn off the notifications on your phone. With the exception of text (maybe) there is nothing so important coming in from your e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Candy Crush that you need a ding, ping or buzz to distract you from your team. I just did this recently and the calm you feel seeing a blank, quiet screen is amazing.

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COACHING: In a leadership environment driven by a selling skills model, a leadership/coaching model, a competency model and countless “initiatives” going on at the same time – it’s easy to start coaching folks on many things atthe same time. And then have them drop off just as quickly as they started. This is coaching clutter and it’s distracting.

*TIP: fight the urge to coach the topic du jour and stay disciplined about diagnosing and providing coaching on 1-2 the most important and impactful skills an individual on your team needs. And see it through.

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Another powerful quote on minimalism from Courtney Carver, from her website bemorewithless.com:

Be more with less


I’d make the adjustment for today’s conversation to read:


Imagine the impact we might have.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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