Sales is an area that is impossible to fully control. Josse Coudré knows. He has spent his entire career adapting strategies to drive growth, regardless of the market dynamics. His secret for success? A clear direction, endless upskilling, great teamwork and a passion to win.
Anyone attending sales training learns that at least 50 percent of a successful selling process is the ability to listen.
“The same applies to running a successful organization,” says Josse Coudré, General Manager for Sales Area Central Europe at Sandvik Coromant. “If you want things to improve, you need to make sure you listen more than you talk and create the psychological safety that make ideas flourish.” It’s worked with his teams – at least nine times out of ten.
“If it doesn’t, it might be time to reflect on the strength of your team,” he says.
A good leader
Coudré’s strongest teams consist of a mix of profiles that create a powerful talent base where everyone has a functional role. He heads sales teams in 16 countries, but, as he explains, he is not driving sales. That’s the sales teams’ job. However, helping the sales clusters succeed takes dedicated leadership.
So what does Coudré look for in a good leader? The immediate answer is a strong commitment to ethics and safety, he says. Empathy is equally important, as are communication skills – both as a sender and receiver of information – and the ability to build a shared vision for the way ahead. “Add to that a strong sense of execution, to follow through, and a passion to win,” he says.
The past few years have in many ways taught us all how fast the world changes, he says. “Just as we managed our way out of the pandemic, Russia invaded Ukraine, which once again changed the bigger game plan,” he says. “With all these uncertainties around us we have to aim high enough to cover for the surprises and be able to adapt to the new situations.”
Quality and speed
Coudré says he is focused on what his team needs to be successful in the years to come and what it needs to accomplish to fit the strategy of Sandvik. To make sure everyone on the team is part of a constant learning curve is a priority. One of the toughest challenges, he says, is to drive change.
“The energy used to eliminate the resistance to change and to abate the anxiety and uncertainty of the people affected should ideally be invested in the quality and speed of the change instead,” he says.
Even so, there is no doubt that Coudré likes his mission. “Being able to deliver the results in spite of the dynamics and uncertainty is the beauty of the job we are doing,” he says.
Attesting to Coudré’s ability to get the job done is former colleague Mattias Nilsson, Vice President for Offer Management and R&D. “Coudré has the leadership skills needed to adapt to any new situation,” he says. “Sandvik’s core values are very visible in Josse’s leadership, in his actions and how he works in different situations with employees and peers,” Nilsson says. “He has a big ear and a big heart and is at the same time clear about what his expectations are.”
When Nilsson was General Manager for the Sales Area South Europe he worked closely with Coudré. He says he particularly respects Coudré’s data-driven and fact-based way of assessing a situation. He describes him as a leader with a clear thought on the direction forward. “He is very open to collaborate and seek insights from others,” Nilsson says, “and shares his own thoughts to reach good outcomes and get results. That applies to the team he belongs to as well as to the teams he leads.”
3 quick questions
What is most important for you as a leader?
Commitment to safety and ethics, empathy, good communication skills and the ability to connect with your team, combined with a strong sense of execution.
How do you excel as a team?
With open communication and a clear direction forward.
What is your best advice in a dynamic business climate?
Don’t focus on the obstacle – keep looking at where you need to go and aim high enough to cover for surprises.
Role: General Manager Sales Area Central Europe.
Location: Main office in Düsseldorf, Germany, but lives in Belgium.
Tenure: Joined Sandvik in 2007 when the company acquired Diamond Innovations, moved to Sandvik Coromant in 2012.
Family: Married for more than 30 years, four grown children aged between 26 and 32 and two grandchildren.
Favorite hobby: Likes to travel, bike and spend a lot of time in the garden.
Secret superpower: Positive energy – there is always a solution.