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October 01, 2012

Top Desk

Making a Difference

by Angela Loehr Chrysler, CEO, Team National

Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.

Angela Loehr Chrysler, CEO of Team National and daughter of the company’s founder, the late Dick Loehr, is one of a few second-generation leaders in our industry. Steadfast to the principles and values of her father, Angela serves as an exemplary role model. Indeed, when she talks about Team National and those she works with, she clearly exhibits the qualities of servant leadership. For Angela it is always about the people, their goals, their success and their dreams. It is our pleasure to present Angela as the writer of the Top Desk column for this very special issue of Direct Selling News. —DSN

Direct selling provides terrific opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnic groups to realize success, which is why I love this industry. These opportunities for people to start their own businesses from home, to set their own hours, use great products and create wealth while helping others do the same, are the driving forces behind many executives’ desire to be better leaders. Opportunity allows the American dream to be alive and well for millions of people. It gets me—and I know many other direct selling executives—out of bed every day to do more and be more. It is the difference we can make in other people’s lives. Direct selling is more than a job. To many executives like me, it is a calling, a passion and a love of others that keeps us in the industry.

I got involved by running one of Team National’s divisions in 2000. My dad was President and CEO of our company at that time. Our salesforce was, and still is today, mostly couples. Therefore, I have always had to work well with both men and women. We have some couples where the woman is the dominant business builder, and some where the man is the dominant business builder. Other couples build the business equally.

I work with men and women in leadership daily. I enjoy both and see the value each provides. I have learned a lot about each gender over the last 12 years, and I am still learning today! I have personally gained knowledge from both, which has shaped my leadership style. It has given me the opportunity to master the best traits of each. I have learned to be direct and firm like a lot of men can naturally be, and yet show caring and heart like a lot of women naturally can do. I have also learned a lot from other direct selling executives by attending Direct Selling Association meetings.

DSA meetings allow me to continue to observe men and women in leadership roles. Some of what I have witnessed with other direct selling executives, and even our sales field, can be what we think of as stereotypical behavior of men and women. A very common stereotype is that women are nurturing—men are not. Of course, because it’s a stereotype, it’s not always that way! Men can be nurturing too, even when women are not.

I believe the most successful leaders are ones who have traits considered stereotypical of men and women because they work well with both genders. I have found that to be the case for me. I am comfortable at an all-ladies’ retreat or a men’s lunch. I have found that successful executives and direct sellers have good people skills regardless of gender. It does require us to work on relationships and realize that men and women, at times, want to be treated differently. I don’t believe we can separate leadership from relationships. We need to work on relationship skills continuously. We can always be more and learn more. It is a process and a journey, not a destination.

I believe one important aspect of leadership is to serve in our industry. I serve on the DSA and DSEF boards. In so doing, I have met several top direct selling women executives who have positively influenced my leadership. They remind me that, as women, we may have different roles than the men in our companies and our families, but that our roles are just as important. I encourage all executives to be active with DSA meetings and events. The information you will learn can help you professionally and personally. It is also a great opportunity to connect with other women executives in your industry.

Women direct sellers and executives make a tremendous difference in the success of direct sales. The industry is all about building relationships. The most successful direct sellers are the ones who build relationships with their team. Women build relationships well. It is natural for women to build relationships with others. A woman’s inherent relationship-building ability makes a difference in whether someone quits or succeeds. Men can make a difference in this area too, but for women it is often more natural and spontaneous.

In our business, some of our couples have shared that they have had great success because, as the man would say, “my wife keeps people in the business.” The woman is often the connector in the team. Women enjoy and value relationship building, therefore they do it often. Women also naturally serve others. At Team National we consider our Executive Leadership style as servant leadership. We believe that our primary responsibility is to serve our sales field, our staff and our business partners. We have men and women on our team, and all embrace it. Yet I also know of other companies where that is not the case. In some environments women are more likely to embrace and capitalize on the benefits of servant leadership. It has definitely been beneficial to me and our organization. I also believe it can and will serve you well if you review this type of leadership personally, and as a team.

As leaders we need to take responsibility for our leadership growth and path. One way I have done that is to assess my strengths and improve them. John Maxwell says, “You should work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.” Why? Maxwell goes on to say, “If you are good at something, by working at it you can be great. Yet, if you are bad at something, if you work on it you might become average at it.”

It isn’t natural to work on our strengths; even in school we were taught to work on what we were not good at. Yet I have put this into practice in my life and my leadership, and it has been true and beneficial. If you are unsure of what your strengths are, I suggest you ask others.

There are a variety of strength assessment tests you can utilize. I, along with our executives, recently took the StandOut strength test by Marcus Buckingham. It has been helpful for us as executives to know what we do well and then determine how we can do more of that to more effectively contribute to our team. I feel truly blessed to be able to work in the sales field and at the corporate office. I work with people who really want to make a difference, and that is something that feels very good to be a part of.

Angela Loehr ChryslerAngela Loehr Chrysler is the CEO of Team National.