Moving Up the Ladder

April 6, 2017 12:49 pm Published by Comments Off on Moving Up the Ladder

Blog April 2017

“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginni Rommety, CEO of IBM

I have a coaching client that was recently promoted into a management position.

He was an excellent employee, detail-oriented, meticulous at his job. He felt it was time to take on more responsibility and move into a position where he had room to grow and move “up the ladder.” So he requested time and again to move into a new position as a manager, which would allow additional opportunities in the future. Although he interacted on a daily basis with production managers, he had never actually worked on a production line, much less managed a team. Although he had knowledge about what the position entailed, he lacked experience juggling all of the responsibilities required in that position. Yet, the company gave him his request to be a production manager since he seemed so eager to take on the new role.

One year later, he was failing, the plant was under-performing, and the team had become so dysfunctional that it was a virus spreading throughout the plant. His directness was perceived as condescending and combative. He was late on reports, lacked timely follow through, not able to hold his team accountable, and not meeting production numbers. He was failing on both fronts; people and tasks.

The increased pressure from others to perform caused him to begin to shut down. When he was pushed for answers, he would lash out (Aberrant behavior from our leadership assessment). This is the point where I was called in to “change” him. Was it too little too late? Were they truly willing to give him another chance, or was I the priest being sent in for last rights? In other words, had they already condemned this employee and I was there to ease their conscious so at least they could say they gave him every opportunity, including coaching? The company knew there was a problem in the first few months. Wouldn’t it have had a greater impact to bring in coaching as soon as the problem was identified? Better yet, what if coaching occurred prior to the promotion? Think of the impact and the benefit to knowing an individuals strengths and challenges before putting them in a certain position! It would have come out on his assessment that he was detail-oriented and task-focused. Good qualities to complete a task accurately, but perhaps not as beneficial when it comes to motivating others to complete a task. The company still might have promoted him, but at least they would have known from the start that perhaps he needed some additional training in giving feedback, coaching or other leadership-related challenges.

Many companies believe if a person is  exceptional at completing tasks, they will be good at leading others to complete tasks. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Companies inadvertently set up fabulous employees to fail. We put them in leadership positions, but either don’t have time or don’t know how to develop their leadership qualities. Strong leadership is critical to success. There is nothing soft about leadership. It is one of the most difficult aspects of managing a team. It is not for the faint of heart. Management is telling people what to do and how to do it. Leadership is guiding others to want to complete tasks and to rally for a common purpose. Effective leadership includes having integrity, making wise decisions, holding others accountable, delegating appropriately, motivating others, and communicating with honesty. It is a rare and intangible quality that leads to tangible results.

Contact us to help your leaders reach increased tangible results.

I have grown from many negative experiences in my life, and not one of them was comfortable. Some of them perhaps even unfair. But the reality was that I had to choose to change me or change the situation. That is exactly where my client found himself. How he got there no longer mattered. What he did next would matter a lot! Life is about choices. Plain and simple. My client now had a choice to make and he needed a razor sharp focus, a plan of action, and the courage and discipline to stay the course in the face of great adversity. Every growth lesson involves humility, stepping out of a comfort zone, changing habits and attitudes, addressing negative issues, and making tough decisions. It was time to make the tough choices or someone else would make them for him. Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, said “Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

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