If the key to this business is to develop leaders, then what is it that makes a leader? What is the difference between leaders and distributors?

Are leaders taller? More handsome or beautiful? Do they live in better neighborhoods? Drive different types of cars? Memorize presentations more accurately? Are they outgoing, self-starters, more focused and driven?

No. The only difference between leaders and distributors is how they think. In every situation or problem, a leader will think differently than a distributor.

Everyone has problems. Leaders and distributors face the same problems every day. Leaders don't become leaders because of lack of problems. They become leaders because of how they think and handle problems.

If you can train your distributor to think differently when problems, challenges, or situations arise, then you’ll have fully-trained leaders. And if you don't, you're going to spend a lifetime fixing all your distributors’ problems, answering all their questions, holding their hands, and trying to re-motivate them after every challenge.


Three Steps to Training Leaders

First, write down all the everyday problems you encounter in your business.

Second, for each problem, write down what would represent leadership thinking and what would represent distributor thinking.

Third, write down any appropriate stories that you could tell your potential leader to help him change his thinking from distributor thinking to leadership thinking.

That’s it. Now, when a problem, challenge, or situation arises, take your potential leaders aside, show them the two ways of thinking about it, illustrate them with a story, and say:

“If you want distributor results, think like a distributor. If you want leadership results, think like a leader. It's strictly up to you which results you want—and it doesn't cost anything to change your thinking.”

Let me share two examples to get you started.


“My Sponsor Doesn't Help Me”

I hear this all the time; people call and complain:

“I can't become a leader; I can't even become a good distributor because my sponsor doesn't help me.”

Is that leader thinking, or distributor thinking? That one’s easy. Here’s the story I like to tell.

When I was first in network marketing, I’d been in business for almost two years, had no distributors and no retail customers. I was an absolute failure. A concerned leader came to me and said, “Tom, you’re not doing very well.”

I replied, “Of course I’m not doing well. My sponsor doesn't help me. He doesn't know any more about this business than I do.”

The leader said, “Tom, tell me about your sponsor. Did he sponsor anybody else besides you?”

Uh-oh, this was getting personal. I had to admit, my sponsor had indeed recruited other distributors into the business—and one or two of them were actually successful.

The leader said, “Tell me about those one or two. Don’t they have exactly the same sponsor as you do?”

Ouch! That was mean! But I got it: I couldn't blame my sponsor—and if it had nothing to do with the sponsor, that left…me! My distributor thinking instantly changed to leadership thinking.


“My Products Are Too Expensive”

Leader thinking or distributor thinking?

Let’s say I’m your potential leader, but my belief that the products are too expensive is holding me back. You want to change my thinking—not with a lecture, but with a story.

“Tom, I know you think the products are too expensive. You could be right. But I think a lot of people buy for convenience, quality, comfort, extra features or prestige, and most people will pay more to get those benefits.”

I reply: “No, prospects want to save money; they’ll buy the least expensive products they can.”

So you tell me, “Tom, you could be right. I don't know. Let's go and find out, okay?” And you ask, “Tom, what's the cheapest automobile you can purchase?”

I think for a minute and say, “A Yugo. It has four wheels and a steering wheel and will get you from Point A to Point B.”

You take me outside to a street corner and say, “Since people buy on price, I bet we’ll see a lot of Yugos drive by. In fact, I’ll bet over 50 percent of the cars that pass by will be Yugos.”

As we stand there, what types of automobiles pass by? There’s a Chevrolet, then a Ford, then a BMW, a Toyota, a Dodge, another Ford, a Cadillac, a Lexus, another Ford, a Volkswagen—and not a single Yugo!

You turn to me and say, “Is it possible that people buy automobiles for prestige, comfort or quality—and not on price? I haven’t seen a single Yugo yet. Tell you what, let’s go to another street corner. This just could be a bad location.”

We walk to another street corner. What do we see? Nissans, Toyotas, Fords, Chevrolets, BMWs, Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs—and not a single Yugo. You say, “Gee, it doesn’t look like anybody purchased their automobile based on price. Everybody on this corner purchased comfort, color, convenience or prestige. Let’s go to another corner and look at some more…”

I say, “No, no, no—I get the point.” And I do.

Simply take a problem, identify distributor thinking and leadership thinking, then give concrete examples and stories. Your potential leaders will believe their own conclusions. You’ll end up with someone who thinks like a leader—and therefore is a leader.


Tom schreiter writes Fortune Now (www.fortunenow.com), an online newsletter for network marketing leaders.