A Priest, a Salesman, and a Manager Walk into a Bar…

Most of us have heard a joke that starts off something like this, and usually there’s a terrible punchline that ensues. Well, there’s no punchline here but, believe it or not, I’ve come to realize that these three people have more than one thing in common.

A few years back, I was having a conversation with my human resources manager, who was also an ordained minister. In the call center industry, and probably in most places of business, HR never fully understands operations and operations doesn’t always understand HR. To help my friend bridge the gap in understanding, I told him “ministers, salesmen, and managers are all alike”. He was stunned at my statement because he saw no correlation between the three. All three of these people try to gain the acceptance of the masses in something they’re “selling”. I say this with all due respect to the religious leaders in our society, so please, follow my logic.

The best performers, in these positions, are extremely effective communicators. All three use words, powerful words, filled with emotion and sincerity to convey their message. They are equally effective speaking to an individual, or a group.

There’s a saying that says “you have 2 ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as you talk.” All three of these people, if they’re worth their salt, will listen to what the “customer” needs so that they can tailor their responses appropriately.

Have you ever heard the term “manage by walking around” or “MBWA”? Managers walk their floors, salesmen walk their floors, and ministers make home visits and share fellowship after service. Take Pope Francis, for example. What attributes can you think of that’s made Pope Francis so endearing? I’m not Catholic, but I’ll tell you that this man has my attention. I believe that a couple of the big reasons that he is capturing the attention of the world, is because of his accessibility and humility. Don’t you like it when your boss’ boss stops by your desk and talks to you? We all do. Pope Francis is out there shaking hands and kissing babies…literally.

The last thing that I believe makes these three careers similar is passion. Without having the driving passion and belief in what you’re talking about, whether it be religion, a product, or a managing principle, you will never get the buy in of the people. If you don’t believe in the new attendance policy you’re rolling out, or the new widget you’re selling, or the salvation you’re espousing, you will fail. Sure, you might have short term success, but Momma always said “BS will only get you so far. You can’t BS your way through life.” If you don’t have passion backing up your words and actions, people will see right through you.

All of these positions require strong communication and effective listening skills, as well as, the ability to create quality interactions with others. Most of all, the successful ones are all passionate about what they do. Come to think of it, isn’t this a good start towards the definition of a leader?


Written by Rob Woodruff
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