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It’s easy to have lofty ideals in the MSP space without sticking to them. Texas even has a phrase for people like that: “Big hat, no cattle.”

The expression comes from the days when herding cattle was a common way of life. If a gentleman tried to stand out, he could wear a large hat and expensive clothes, but it didn’t necessarily mean he earned those possessions through hard work. If we don’t take stock of our actions as professionals, our hats may soon grow too big in relation to our accomplishments.

We see this same concept play out all the time in family life. We’ve all heard couples without kids watch parents struggle with their children and remark, “Oh, we’ll never do that when we’re parents.” These couples learn soon enough how difficult it is to be a mother or a father, and they often make the same “mistakes” they once judged others for making. As rewarding as raising children can be, we don’t understand the difficulty of the task until we’re facing the same challenge.

It’s the same for MSPs

Picture a manager who demands 10 new clients by the end of the quarter. If this manager didn’t accomplish this sort of achievement in their sales days, it is hard to respect the request.

Many people will come back with, “Have you ever done that?” or “How do you expect us to pull that off?” Without a proven track record from the manager, it is difficult to inspire the respect that drives a team to action.

We all run the risk of letting our hats get too big. Although I try to avoid it, I’m guilty of it myself. I’ll occasionally find myself giving someone direction that I haven’t done myself.

The problem comes in waves, and it attacks all of us. As humans, we are prone to straying. It’s human nature and requires a conscious effort to combat. We must always remain vigilant to recognize it when it happens.

How can MSPs overcome this problem?

To overcome the hat problem, we must:

  • Keep the right team around us. Our team members should be comfortable enough to tell us if our hats have gotten too big. In return, we must remain humble enough to listen to them when they point out our mistakes.
  • Use processes that keep us grounded. If we’re developing a new process for the team, we need to make sure it’s something we would follow. The language we use today must match the actions we’ve taken in the past. If they don’t align, we must explain what we’ve learned.
  • Conduct regular self-evaluations. Take time each week to evaluate the language we’ve used and the direction we’ve given the team. We need to walk the walk and talk the talk, so all guidance must come from the experience and knowledge gained through our efforts. If our advice doesn’t align with past actions, we should take the time to explain why a new direction is a better move.

We’ve all been in the awkward situation of receiving direction from someone who has never walked the walk. Following in their steps devalues our own leadership value.

If you can keep your hat size in line with your cattle, you demonstrate both self-awareness and leadership skills. Be honest with yourself, and you can inspire those around you.

Photo: alexkich/ Shutterstock

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Brad Stoller

Posted by Brad Stoller

Brad Stoller is the CEO/Founder of Creativity Counts, LLC. Brad’s in-depth understand of the frustrations that MSP owners and managers go through when trying to keep their businesses growing led him to create a new way. Brad formed Creativity Counts to help MSPs not only find targeted prospects, but also actually help them CLOSE new business through a combination of technology, human interaction, and positioning his clients as true experts in their communities. His company is all about disrupting the old way of costly sales programs and creating new and effective methods and strategies to really help MSP’s, not just giving them another lead generation program.

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