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The Age of Leadership in the Channel

What makes our channel unique? I am not sure I have the definitive answer to that question, but I am confident of one thing – our channel is made up almost entirely of accidental entrepreneurs, and as often as not, we are also by and large unwilling entrepreneurs.

Over the last 20 years, that situation has been acceptable. Channel partners built their businesses around their own needs and desires. Whether you wanted a small company or a large company, a hobby business or a serious enterprise, an MSP or a break fix shop, it all worked.

Along Came MSPs

Matt Scully, incoming channel chief, Mailprotector

Author: Ted Roller, virtual channel chief, Mailprotector

There was a place for all shapes and size, by and large because our SMB customers didn’t have clear expectations of what our little channel could deliver. The MSP model, and more accurately the execution of the MSP deliverables, changed all that. Your business model and role within your company were also contributors.

You might not have noticed.

So here is the thing. MSPs are evolving all the time. The toolset and deliverables have become quite complex. The competition has become fierce. Your value proposition is constantly deteriorating. Let me say that another way; you are, more than ever, walking up the down escalator. If you don’t move your business forward, you are going to lose competitive position to those who are taking those steps. Unlike 5 years ago, moving aggressively forward is now the norm, not the exception.

10 Habits for Effective Leadership

In a highly competitive market, leadership absolutely makes the difference between growth and stagnation. There are a host of different characteristics that make up a successful leader. According to military lore that was shared with me years ago, the two most impactful characteristics are clear communication and height.

At 5’10” on a good day, that second one always saddened me, but not all of us can be tall, and Napoleon was notoriously short, so height isn’t everything. Either way, here are 10 habits that I have tried very hard to adopt in my life as a leader and I hope you find them valuable as well.

  1. Make as few decisions as humanly possible, but make sure that you make the big decisions. Always.
  2. When you praise, do it loudly. When you criticize, do it softly.
  3. The business can be whatever you want it to be until you hire your first employee. After that, the business must be the best it can be, regardless of what you want.
  4. If you feel the absolute necessity to brag, make it about your team.
  5. Focus on the established goals, and never ever forget them. They are the heart and soul of the business, the culture, and the bedrock for your employees.
  6. Figure out exactly what you do best and build your business value around that skill set. Being great is about doing what you are great at doing.
  7. Projections are not promises. Stuff happens from every direction, and patience truly is a virtue.
  8. Hire only people that you can truly love, cheer for, and admire. Then do each of those things every single day. They will return the same to you tenfold.
  9. You can spend every single moment of your career trying to make your team happy. That would be a waste of every single minute.
  10. Dream huge. Communicate big. Plan medium. Execute small.

A quick note as I wrap up this blog; my time with Mailprotector will be over at the end of July, and I wanted to share with everyone what a wonderful experience it has been. I am happy to confirm what you may have already read on ChannelE2E; in the coming weeks, I will hand off my channel responsibilities at Mailprotector to Matt Scully, formally of Datto. I am confident that he will continue the effort to create and deliver email security that is as easy to use as it is secure.

Good luck, everyone! Lead well.


Ted Roller is virtual channel chief at Mailprotector through July 2020. The company develops email protection services delivered via MSPs and resellers. Read more Mailprotector guest blogs here.

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