Archive for October 2012

Leadership Is Not For Every Star

October 26, 2012

We’ve all seen it several times: the emerging superstar or long-time warrior who’s excelled at all the challenges the organization has given them.  Their career path was impressive and the organization has benefited handsomely from the high-performer’s contributions.  The next logical step up the ladder is a managerial role.  This is where the superstar fails and the organization has not only lost one of it’s most valued contributors, they now have a leadership issue.

Not every superstar makes a great leader and great leaders were not always superstar contributors.  Though leadership skills can and should be developed, a high-performer’s leadership potential must be evaluated before they are promoted.  Delegation tendencies, strategic focus, situational control, humility, and people awareness can all be assessed BEFORE someone is promoted.  Understanding a superstar’s limitations before setting them up for failure can prevent the loss of a great asset and a managerial headache.  In fact, many organizations have two high potential career tracks: one for high performers with leadership potential and one for strong individual contributors.

Empower yourself to assess a superstar’s leadership potential before promoting them to a leadership role and you’ll both be more successful.

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Be Your Direct Report’s Greatest Advocate

October 20, 2012

Many years ago we worked with a leader who had an office manager whose husband was tragically killed in a car accident.  The office manager, not only distraught over the loss of her husband, was deeply upset she would not be able to return to work after the company’s one week bereavement period.  She was in no condition to work and the stress over losing her job because she could not adhere to company policy only deepened her mourning.  Her leader, to his credit, on behalf of his office manager approached the company’s senior leadership to plead her case for more bereavement time.  Senior leadership, persuaded by the leader, gave the office manager one month paid bereavement time before returning to work.

It’s your job as a leader to advocate on behalf of your direct reports.  If your organization’s policies do not treat your direct reports fairly, you must battle for them.  Whether it’s more pay, time off, or policy exceptions, you need to take up the fight – not your direct reports.  Whether you win or lose the crusade, your direct reports will be deeply grateful and perform at greater levels for you.

Empower yourself to advocate for your direct reports, and you’ll experience more success from them.

Be Honest With Your Direct Reports

October 14, 2012

If you’ve ever experienced flight delays while traveling, you know how frustrating it is when the airline withholds or sugar-coats bad news.  We’d all like to know our flight is delayed or cancelled when the airline knows about it.  But airlines, concerned they might disappoint their customers, often conceal or soften the bad news.  As travelers, even though it’s unpleasant, we’d much prefer to know what’s happening and want the airline to be honest with us.

This is how direct reports feel when leaders aren’t completely forthright with them.  Leaders need to be completely honest when delivering feedback and conducting performance reviews.  Like airline customers, employees want to know when there are issues impacting the company sooner rather than later.  Though it may feel uncomfortable, employees have much more respect for the leader who is forthright and direct.

Empower yourself to be honest and prompt when delivering tough messages and you and your direct reports will be more successful.

Beware Of The Peter Principle

October 4, 2012

Eventually your organization will reach a common barrier to growth whereby the employees who got your organization to its current level will not be able to grow the organization to the next level.

According to Wikipedia, the Peter Principle is a belief that, in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization’s members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, “employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” Essentially employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle.

The best way to manage this inevitable dilemma is to establish job accountabilities and measure quarterly whether or not the job’s success factors are being achieved.  Eventually both you and your direct report will realize the Peter Principle has been reached and a change is needed.  Furthermore, setting accountabilities and success factors for future positions, helps the individual prepare for success in that position as they work their development plans so the promotion doesn’t rely on “hope” as the strategy for success.

Empower your direct reports with job accountability success factors, review them regularly, and you’ll successfully mange the Peter Principle.