How Great Parents Make Great Sales Managers

Before we begin, I’d like mention that I am not about to argue that great Sales Managers use great techniques for developing great Salespeople the way great parents use what they’ve learned from parenting books to raise successful children—I’m going to argue the opposite. We’re going to look at some quick stats from Freakonomics by Steven Levitt to understand why tactics don’t matter as much as we believe they do.

Looking at over 20,000 children to measure academic progress, a study shows 16 factors—8 of which correlated with high test scores, and 8 that did not make a difference in children’s test scores.

Can you guess which 8 factors correlated positively with high test scores?

  • The child has highly educated parents.
  • The child’s family is intact.
  • The child’s parents have high socioeconomic status.
  • The child’s parents recently moved into a better neighborhood.
  • The child’s mother was thirty or older at the time of her first child’s birth.
  • The child’s mother didn’t work between birth and kindergarten.
  • The child had low birthweight.
  • The child attended Head Start.
  • The child’s parents speak English in the home.
  • The child’s parents regularly take him to museums.
  • The child is adopted.
  • The child is regularly spanked.
  • The child’s parents are involved in the PTA.
  • The child frequently watches television.
  • The child has many books in his home.
  • The child’s parents read to him nearly every day.

Here are the eight factors that are correlated with high test scores:

  • The child has highly educated parents
  • The child’s parents have high socioeconomic status.
  • The child’s mother was thirty or older at the time of her first child’s birth.
  • The child had low birthweight.
  • The child’s parents speak English in the home.
  • The child is adopted.
  • The child’s parents are involved in the PTA.
  • The child has many books in his home.

Isn’t it interesting that having many books in the home correlated with higher test scores but reading to a child every day didn’t? Or that taking the child regularly to museums did nothing for the child’s test scores while having highly educated parents made a great positive difference in the child’s test scores?

For the full details of why this is the case, you’ll have to read the book, but for our purpose here, I’ll give you the simple answer.

What you do as a parent does not matter nearly as much as who you are.

Many attributes of a parent have been decided long ago—whether he is hard working, well educated, smart, fortunate, and married someone with similar characteristics.

This brings me to my point about managers and leaders. By the time someone picks up a book about management or leadership, it’s already too late. I don’t mean that someone can’t learn to be a great manager—that’s up for debate—what I do mean is that most of the attributes of a successful leader were decided long ago—whether she is hard working or not, whether she is smart or not, whether she believes in her employees or not.

You can ask your sales team to make 100 calls a day, but if you haven’t done this yourself and are unwilling to do so, then they won’t respect you and will eventually stop listening to you.

So why did the household with lots of books produce a smarter child than one with less books but where the child was read to every day? Because leadership is philosophy, not a recipe. The child with highly educated parents doesn’t need to be read to every day—he witnesses how his parents talk, walk, eat and sleep and learns through example—and so do employees.

Navid Amin is Recruitment Consultant at RMSG in Toronto, Canada. Navid helps clients through designing and implementing hiring initiatives. He is passionate about sales, marketing and technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn at ca.linkedin.com/in/navidamin and follow him on Twitter at @Navid_Amin.