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Jacques Desdoigts will bring in six figures this year. His educational background isn't remarkable. He has no interest in an MBA. He has tattoos, takes transit, doesn't go into the office on weekends and refuses to wear a suit. Jacques Desdoigts is well on his way to becoming Sales Director. I genuinely love people, explains Desdoigts. Listening to them, making them laugh, figuring out what they need and how I can help them.

So much for the fast-talking charlatans of the pitching profession. As little as ten years ago, Gordon Gecko-esque ethics still typified those needed to succeed but business majors are no longer bounding into entry-level positions set to swindle and spin.

Companies learn the hard way that mistakes happen when they fall out of touch. Whether these mistakes are made by individuals or entire boards of individuals, when they lose the connection to the elements ' the people, the environment, the purpose ' that support their success, they run the risk of becoming irrelevant, at best. At worst, total catastrophe. As a result, there is a push to reconnect with our most human of sensibilities, to cultivate and reward that which can be neither outsourced nor automated.

In his book Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, Dev Patnaik asserts that the best organizations, and the ones that survive economic setbacks and downturns, are those with empathic cultures and managers who are able to step outside themselves and walk in someone else's shoes.

Particularly in sales, long-term success and aspirations of leadership require empathy. Not in a touchy-feely, daily-group-hug sort of way but in a way that supports intuition and a gut feeling of other people. Increasingly, employers are identifying empaths as optimal leaders. Not only does their ability to connect to customers help them sell with ease but their genuine interest in and care for fellow employees enables them to build and motivate a team often without even trying.

As Desdoigts explains, There are two basic ways to influence human behaviour: Manipulation and Inspiration. Thankfully, if I have empathy for someone there's no way I can manipulate him. But I can inspire him. When I get to know him and his unique situation ' not just as a potential sale but as a human being  I can assess his needs honestly and identify how and if his business, his life, can be bettered by my product which goes a long way towards growing lifetime sales relationships.

And for a Sales Director, passion and drive aren't just a plus, they're the fuel. Judith Orloff M.D. has written extensively on Empathy in the workplace. Empathic people have great vision and are passionate about their beliefs and ideas. They can read between the lines, often able to perceive grey areas in a discussion or sense unspoken tension in meetings.

A great Sales Director certainly needs solid people skills but there is a great deal more to the job. Being dialed-in only becomes more involved, more complex and more important as you move up the ladder. Sales Directors weave the web that connects management, marketing and sales, seeing mission to strategy and taking strategy to execution. They do this all while remaining attuned to market trends, R & D, corporate direction, and the needs of the customer. To top it off, a Sales Director will also know exactly how to respond to crises or developments in order to maintain the tender balance of all the elements under her watchful eye.

While some employers will look for candidates to hold an advanced degree, others will place more weight on a proven track record and measurable results. Truly, it is only by understanding the intimate details of your customer base and knowing how all the various corners of the web connect that you will be able to tell, for example, how a strategy and its execution must be modified to account for regional or territorial differences that could impact an audience.

Much of the prowess of multi-tasking is acquired with experience and practice. Being able to strategically prioritise plans of action that will hit a number of birds with a single stone becomes an invaluable skill, especially if you can empower someone else to throw that stone. Herein lies the craft of managing an effective team. The more empowered people are, the more they will accomplish, and the happier they'll be about it. Whether as a Team Leader, Manager or Director, empowering individuals to challenge their limits, take risks and make decisions creates an atmosphere that encourages autonomy. Such an environment allows employees to better see themselves in their work and find fulfillment in what they do.

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