“I can’t lead my sales manager…This was a direct quote during an executive coaching session recently with a COO: “I can’t lead my sales manager, because I just can’t out argue him.”
This is the symptom of a common flaw I see frequently in companies and organizations. The flaw? Moving employees into management and leadership positions that either do not belong, or are not appropriately trained for the role.
Let’s use “George” as an example. George is COO and is struggling with a long time Sales Manager “Jim”, George’s direct report. George cannot get past Jim’s influence in the company. Jim has been with the company for years…he is loyal…he get’s results. And, George just cannot move Jim towards directions he needs Jim to go.
Can you relate? Are you in this situation right now? Do you have a fairly new executive in a role where he/she is experiencing this struggle? This is a very common issue.
It is not uncommon for a person like George to be placed into the role of COO and struggle with his direct reports who have been a part of the company for years. John C. Maxwell, in his book; The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, references this type of leader. You know who the leader is when you walk into the room. And in George’s case, he is not the leader, Jim is.
The common flaw of moving people into leadership roles shows up in several ways.
Competence in prior positions
– Simply said, these people move up because they are good at what they do. At each level prior to and executive position, these people have been some of the best in their roles. It makes sense to make the next move…into management or executive roles.
– These people have all the certifications, degrees, trainings, etc. This type of person has met all the prerequisites of the positions. I have witnessed 2 examples of this in my years of leading: 1) I have done executive coaching with leaders who hold MBAs and are very weak at supervision, leading, and communicating. 2) When I was a High School Principal, I experienced “certified” teachers who had the college credentials but really had no business being a teacher.
Tenure and Loyalty
– Many companies make a heart decision to move up the person who has been with the company for years as a reward. However, this many times sets up an epic fail. No matter how loyal this person has been, many times he/she is not management material. Even if he is a “Jim”. This does not translate into leading others at the executive level.
The overall philosophy and intent behind each of these flaws is logical and understandable. You saw something in your top employee.. The mistake is the preparation of the individual moving up.
Far too many promotions are performed based off of the assumption that this person is fully ready for the role. And far too many organizations do not spend time or money preparing the individual for his/her position. Furthermore, the above three reasons to promote should not be the only aspects reviewed when advancing someone.
It is difficult in our fast-paced world to be conscious of the need to intentionally prepare and train these potential executives for their roles.
The Value of Executive Coaching
This is where executive coaching can be of value. Two people need coaching in this scenario. The first is/are the executive(s) making the decision to advance or hire an individual for a key position. Coaching will help you look at all the angles and give you an outside perspective with no emotional ties.
Second, even with intentional preparation by the hiring executive, coaching is valuable to help the new leader in his/her role. Here are three initial ways I would approach help the individual in his/her new role:
- Listen and get to know.
Who are the influential people you will be supervising? Sit down and listen to them. Ask their opinion of the company. Ask their opinion of you. Find out what they think might be “broken”. Who are they connected to in the company? Pay attention to his/her influence. Begin to model the traits he/she exhibits. Don’t fake this modeling. Find a way to incorporate it into your personality.
- Make the influencer your ally…
Learn why he/she pushes agendas. Agree with them where you can. Befriend them as a mentor. Eventually, without manipulating, you will be able to plant suggestions this person will accept and advocate for you.
- Go beyond the “books and seminars” to learn…
Find a mentor. Go observe other experienced leaders in action. Join a leadership mastermind group. Bring your real-time scenarios to your coach. Let’s work on steps into your influence beyond just your title.
Who has time to pour into this new executive? Very few companies and organizations have the resources to create a training program for advancement. So, many new executives are sent to training seminars. I have gained some valuable information attending seminars. However, I typically apply about 2% to (if lucky) 10% of what I learned in a day-long seminar.
I enjoy conducting executive coaching seminars. But I realize that little of what I covered will be implemented.
Executive Coaching Opportunity
Executive coaching will allow your new leader an opportunity to experience frequent experiential contact with an individual who has an outside perspective. This executive coach can challenge, encourage, teach, mentor, guide, etc. this new leader drawing upon real-time experiences in the new role.
Furthermore, this coach would be in close contact with you reviewing the experience and progress. This frees up your time and resources. Ultimately, executive coaching costs far less than a program that your business may not be able to afford. Yet, the coaching gives your company a boost in leadership skills.
Which pain do you want to feel? The same pain of doing the same thing over and over with the same results? Or the pain of something new – like executive coaching – but a pain of change that lasts far less in duration and produces better results?
Take that leap. Set up a call today and let’s visit your executive coaching plan. Set up a FREE call now: https://calendly.com/byron-growthresources/30min