• Sarah E. Brown

Listen, Learn, and Lead with Michael Sherlock


Do you feel like you’re not giving your full potential to your business and colleagues? Do you want to know how to become a better leader?


Listening and learning are the two crucial actions you need to take to “shock” your full potential.


Michael Sherlock is serious about business. She is dedicated to creating positive, productive, and profitable workplaces, and helping individuals, and businesses unlock their ultimate potential. Before launching her global training company, Shock Your Potential, Michael was Vice President of US Sales for two multi-national medical devices companies responsible for net revenue exceeding $75 million and as many as 500 employees at a time.


In this episode, Michael shares her insights on how listening and asking the right questions to your colleagues or employees is the first step to shocking your true and full potential. She also talks about how to avoid disfunction and disruption in your company and get the most out of your team.


What you will learn from this episode:

  • Discover the power of listening and asking

  • Learn more on how to shock your potential and lead your company in the best way

  • Find out how to ask the right questions to get the most out of your team


When we know our worth and know our value, we operate differently. We negotiate differently. We present differently. And those are the things that can be used as our steps up, and our steps to help others.
- Michael Sherlock


Valuable Free Resource:


Take the Leadership Persona Quiz or Sales Persona Quiz! Email: info@shockyourpotential.com



Topics Covered:


01:25 - Challenge is the intersection between leadership, sales, sales leadership, and the ultimate customer experience, which can lead to the dysfunction and serious disruption of the company


03:11 - Losing sight of the little steps and being unable to stop and reflect on the situations at hand: one of the common mistakes business women leaders make when leading


04:44 - One free and actionable tip you can do to address the challenge of reflecting and leading: Listen, learn and lead


09:08 - One valuable resource to help you better lead your company and assess situations: Take the Leadership Persona Quiz or Sales Persona Quiz! Email: info@shockyourpotential.com


10:36 - Q: What does it mean to shock your potential? A: When I talk to people about shocking their potential, I take the letters in the word "shock" and I use it for a guide to actually get yourself moving, to give you that first jolt of that electrical fence that makes you feel like your potential is now within your grasp.



Key Takeaways:


“It really comes down to the fact that as we get too focused on change, or challenges that we face, we tend to revert to processes and procedures that we just do instinctually. And what I mean by that is we stop operating for the greater good, and we think too myopic.” - Michael Sherlock


“We become too focused on trying to achieve something else, that we've forgotten that the balance between all of them is vital to ensure success.” - Michael Sherlock


“When we start to ask questions on a regular basis, we start to not only find the pain points, but we also find the points that are really off track that we never saw coming, because we were still focused on the big prize at the moment.” - Michael Sherlock


“What we do by this "listen, learn, lead" that costs us nothing but time. It does take time and it takes our energy because we have to keep ourselves from jumping into solving the problem, even though we probably know the answer. It builds better trust, and it builds better decision-making within your organization, and that's what allows us to get through challenges and come out the other side feeling more successful.” - Michael Sherlock


“The question of how much should I negotiate for myself, at what point in time will I seem obnoxious or ask for too much, but knowing your worth and knowing your value is not just about knowing what your paycheck should be, but it's about knowing that you belong in that place at the table.” - Michael Sherlock



Ways to Connect with Michael Sherlock



Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown



Full Episode Transcript:

Sarah E. Brown 0:53

Don't be fooled by her name, the hair color, or her crazy shoes, which you can see on the website. My guest today, Michael Sherlock, is serious about business. She's dedicated to creating positive, productive, and profitable workplaces, and helping individuals and businesses unlock their ultimate potential. Before launching her global training company, Shock Your Potential, Michael was Vice President of US Sales for two multi-national medical device companies, responsible for net revenue exceeding $75 million, and as many as 500 employees at a time. In 2020, she released the Shock Your Potential app, an on-demand training tool for leadership and sales professionals, and was chosen as #12 on the Top Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021 by EnterpriseLeague.com. Michael, welcome. Thanks for joining me.


Michael Sherlock 2:03

Thank you so much for having me today.


Sarah E. Brown 2:05

So, what is the biggest challenge you help female leaders face in business today? And what are the symptoms of that challenge?


Michael Sherlock 2:13

You know, that's such a great question, because I think that it really forces us to stop and think a little bit about what we've experienced. But when people come to me to seek training in their organizations, they're really having some difficulty around this intersection between leadership, sales, sales leadership, and the ultimate customer experience. And when they face this challenge, it's usually because something is off. Sales are off. Maybe customer satisfaction is down. Maybe the sales protocol or leadership model in the sales process is off. Or maybe just we don't know what our leaders are doing. And any of those pieces, or multiple parts of those pieces, really lead to a sense of not only just dysfunction but really serious disruption to an organization. And when they come to me, they're saying, "We've got a problem. We know we need to fix it. We kind of think what we know what the issue is, but we need help." And sometimes that outside perspective is the one who delivers the message. And when you ask about the symptoms, I think it really comes down to the fact that as we get too focused on change, or challenges that we face, we tend to revert to processes and procedures that we just do instinctually. And what I mean by that is we stop operating for the greater good, and we think too myopic. So, when I see sales disruption, for instance, or I see a lessening or a lack of customer satisfaction, it's usually because we become too focused on trying to achieve something else, that we've forgotten that the balance between all of them is vital to ensure success.


Sarah E. Brown 3:53

I get it. So, what are the biggest mistakes your clients make before working with you?


Michael Sherlock 3:59

You know, like all of us, we think we know the answers. We think we have the solution. We have the best five-point sales strategy to get great results, and sometimes we do. But every process that we have within an organization, especially within sales-focused organizations, and believe me- here's the thing, even though you may not think you're a sales-focused organization, you are. Everybody sells something. They may sell a product, a service, or an idea, but we are all in sales. And when we get too distracted by how all those things have to come together, then we lose sight of the little steps that not only need to be taken but the times that we need to stop and reflect and evaluate. And so, when I take people through the first steps before I even come in for training, I ask so many questions about, what are you doing? What have you done before? What's going right? What's going wrong? But when's the last time you asked your team these same questions? When's the last time you asked the frontline team, the management team, the executive-level team? And when we start to ask questions on a regular basis, we start to not only find the pain points, but we also find the points that are really off track that we never saw coming, because we were still focused on the big prize at the moment.


Sarah E. Brown 5:18

Hmm, I like that asking questions on a regular basis. So, what is the number one free and actionable tip you can share with our audience today to address this challenge now?


Michael Sherlock 5:30

I break it down into what I call “listen, learn and lead”, and it's actually the strategy that I outlined in my very first book called, Tell Me More: How to Ask the Right Questions and Get the Most Out of Your Employees. And although it’s leadership-focused, it can be used in any aspect of an organization, whether you're a leader or not. But the process is really simple, is that whenever you are facing a challenge, something is off, something is wrong, something is not- maybe it's not completely wrong, but you're not achieving the results that you want, then that's the point where you listen by asking a lot of questions. So, let's say that there's something going wrong in finance. You're not quite sure, but data is not being recorded accurately or quickly enough, instead of going in assuming what the problem is, even though you may be right about what the problem is when you go into that group, and you say, you know, "I'd just like to learn a little bit more. Tell me what's going on. What do you see as a challenge?" And you have those questions with people at various levels where you're asking various variations of "Tell me more." So, you don't have to use those words all the time, but you use them in ways to uncover. I call that "unpacking". So, if you've ever sat on a suitcase that is so full that you had to sit on it, to zip it up, you know that you have to make a decision at that point in time. That that suitcase in order- if you just carry it onto the airplane like that, it's probably not going to make it through the whole trip without busting open. So, in order to save yourself the trouble, you unzip it, you take everything out, you lay it all out, and now you have some decisions to make. So, this is what I call, "the learning process". When we have a challenge, and we ask people enough questions that allow them to unpack that stuffed suitcase, now we have greater clarity. We see all the items that are all laid out. We see all the parts to that problem all laid out. And with a suitcase, you make a decision. You either repack it nicely. You know, a little tighter. Maybe you leave some things at home. Maybe you pack a second suitcase. It's the same thing with problems and challenges. When we ask questions, even though we may know the answer, and are probably right many times, by encouraging your team to go through that process of unpacking, you not only learn more about the problem, you learn about their ability to problem solve. And when you get anybody to the point where they can see that unpacked suitcase, that problem unpacked in front of them, now they have the ability to make better choices and decisions, and that's where the lead comes in. Because when you have that problem or that challenge fully unpacked, you can say to that person, that group, that department, what do you- now that we know everything that we know, what do you think we should do next? What do you think the company should do? What do you think the next step is? and 90% of the time, the answer is going to be correct, that they're going to have the correct answer because they've looked at it from a different vantage point. And that 10% whether or not correct, you have a greater opportunity to lead by saying, "Well, tell me more, because I got to tell you, I see some challenges with that, and I'd like to know a little bit more about your thought process because maybe I haven't looked at it the right way. Or if not, maybe I can help you see it from my vantage point." And what we do by this "listen, learn lead" that costs us nothing but time. It does take time and it takes our energy because we have to keep ourselves from jumping into solving the problem, even though we probably know the answer. It builds better trust, and it builds better decision-making within your organization, and that's what allows us to get through challenges and come out the other side feeling more successful. And just on one short extra note on here, I know it's so important to you, Sarah, that you help people to really feel empowered and know that they have control over their career, their companies, their destinies. Every time you use this strategy with someone, you increase their empowerment, which means they are more aligned to you, more aligned to your company, more aligned to your mission, and more aligned to the success of your overall organization.


Sarah E. Brown 9:36

Listen, learn and lead. What great advice and memorable too. All starting with an "L".


Michael Sherlock 9:44

Yes.


Sarah E. Brown 9:45

What is the valuable free resource you can share with the women who are listening today to help them understand this challenge better?


Michael Sherlock 9:52

One of the greatest things that we've been working on lately are two different- call them quizzes about your persona, and one is a "sales persona quiz", and one is a "leadership persona quiz". And the purpose of these quizzes plus a little free mini-lesson that comes after it is to really take a step back and identify where your strengths are as a leader, as a salesperson, or a sales leader, and how you can understand the different personas that impact us at various times. All of us will have some dominant traits. All of us will have some of those traits together. But what we've tried to do with these free quizzes and free mini-courses is just to get people on the right dialogue to start asking themselves the right question because the process of "listen, learn and lead" works amazingly well with a team. But when you practice it yourself, you can take yourself much farther in your own confidence and your own strategic outcomes. So, if anyone wants to join in any of these quizzes, all they have to do is send an email to info@shockyourpotential.com and reference this podcast, as well as reference the leadership or sales persona quiz, and we'd be happy to send it to them.


Sarah E. Brown 11:02

Great, info@shockyourpotential.com, and this will be highlighted in the show notes. Great. Thank you so much for that. So, Michael, what is one question that I should have asked you that will help our audience take action to address this challenge? And then would you please answer the question?


Michael Sherlock 11:19

Absolutely. So, people always ask me, Michael, why did you name yourself- your company, Shock Your Potential? And I think the greatest question is not just that, but what does it mean to shock your potential. And we all know we have potential in us. And we all know that there are times that we feel that that potential is being released into the world. And there are other times we know we're being held back. So, I always equate this to, you know, as a child, or even as an adult, if you ever went up to a very low-level electrical fence, I'm talking about one that's going to harm you, you know, just those little electricity, you know, bursts that if you put your finger on it, it zaps just enough to make you pull your finger back. It shocks you into greater awareness. Now, it shouldn't shock you so much to put you in the hospital, but it should've given you that jolt that opens your eyes a little wider and says, "Huh, maybe I need to be careful of this fence." Or "Maybe I need to be more aware." When I talk to people about shocking their potential, I take the letters in the word "shock" and I use it for a guide to actually get yourself moving, to give you that first jolt of that electrical fence that makes you feel like your potential is now within your grasp. And I'll just hit on the five topics very briefly, but it comes down to this. The "S" stands for "stand out". Do you stand out? How do you stand out? How do you want to stand out? And how we stand out is very critical to how we are seen in the marketplace, what our personal brand is, the words that people say about us when we're not in the room. And we can actually control that dialogue, but it requires some great attention on our part, to stand out in the way that we want to. The "H" is for, "hone your skills" or "hire your deficiencies". And what I mean by that is within each of us, we know that we have great attributes, but we also have things that are not necessarily our competitive advantage. And some of those, we do need to hone those skills, but others we don't. We either need to hire for them, if we're in a leadership position. We need to surround ourselves with people that can fill in those gaps that we can help each other. But honing those skills and hiring our deficiencies is a very realistic way to say, "I know I don't have everything, but there are ways for me not to worry that I don't have them all, and to fill some of those gaps." The "O" is for "operate as if you're already there". And I don't mean fake it till you make it, I mean, operate with the mindset that if you want to be in that C suite, and you're not there yet, how do the people that are in those areas already operate? What kind of ways do they show up and stand out? What ways do they surround themselves with people that helped bring them to bear? What time do they get up? When did they get into the office? You don't have to copy people, but there are things that you should emulate of those that have achieved the levels of success that you want, and to do so in a way that's mindful of who you are, and being your authentic self. The "C" is for "cultivate the people and the opportunities that are going to help you along". And that means raising your eyes to realize you're not in this alone, none of us are in this alone. If we are in it alone, then we are denying ourselves the opportunity to gain greatness from others. And when we have a purposeful dialogue about how to cultivate opportunities, those are great questions. So, someone who wants to get in that C suite, but it's in a middle management position right now should cultivate people that they can ask questions of, of how can I make the next step? What are the things I should be doing today to get me there? But it all comes down to me, Sarah, to the last one which is the "K" and this is the one where most women struggle the most and that is "know your worth and know your value". Now I know that we are powerful beings and we have come so far in embracing our power especially as women, but at the end of the day, many of us still suffer from imposter syndrome, a little bit of self-doubt. The question of how much should I negotiate for myself, at what point in time will I seem obnoxious or ask for too much, but knowing your worth and knowing your value is not just about knowing what your paycheck should be, but it's about knowing that you belong in that place at the table. It's about knowing that you have the opportunity not only to get yourself there, keep yourself there but bring others along. And when we know our worth and know our value, we operate different. We negotiate differently. We present differently. And those are the things that can be used as our steps up and our steps to help others. And as we embrace that, we not only shock our potential, but we shock the potential of every woman and, frankly, every person around us. And that's how we build followers that will be there with us through it all.


Sarah E. Brown 16:06

Michael, you have a great message. Listen, learn and lead, and SHOCK. Standout, hone your skills or hire it out, operate as if you're already there, cultivate opportunities and know your value, for SHOCK. Thank you so much for being with me today.


Michael Sherlock 16:21

Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity.


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