How many times have you seen someone get promoted to a management or leadership position in an organisation when they just weren’t ready for it? I’ve seen it countless times.
It goes something like this…
“Mark, you are an exceptional salesman and you’re consistently hitting your targets. Well done you. In light of your performance, we’ve decided to give you that promotion you’ve been asking for. Congratulations. You are now our sales manager and will be helping others deliver as effectively as you do.”
Mark accepts the position, rolls up his sleeves, and gives it a go.
After the initial glow starts to wear off, Mark starts to realise he’s spent his entire career focusing on his own individual KPIs and goals, and that deep down, he’s not really a team player.
This is when things usually start to go wrong. Mark isn’t a lone wolf anymore and he suddenly has a whole pack to lead, support and nurture.
Mark has been taken out of a position he was really good at, and he really enjoyed, and thrust into a position completely the opposite of his skill set for a new shiny title and a pay increase that doesn’t really equate to the added pressure, workload and stress he’s feeling.
Today’s popular school of thought suggests the best way to become a leader is to throw yourself into the deep end and simply thrash about until you learn to swim.
This does of course work for some people but it takes a lot of time and energy and can cause lasting damage to the leader, their teams, and the business.
The real problem in this scenario isn’t Mark’s lack of ability, it’s his mindset.
And his boss’s mindset. To stop this from happening, we need to identify leadership potential early and plan for it.
From experience, I’ve always found the qualities of great leadership to be strong emotional intelligence, modest and wilful, humble and fearless.
It’s about having an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long term results in a quiet, calm, determined way.
There is no quick fix when it comes to developing these qualities but by spotting the potential in leaders early, we can help cultivate and develop their ability before they’re thrown into the deep end.
To develop great leaders this work needs to start early in their careers, so when they are promoted to a management position, they’re already demonstrating the qualities of great leadership, and inspiring others to do the same.