Have you ever been to a leadership conference where everyone in the room tries to give you the impression they already know the answers? You spend the day or two making small talk, perhaps exploring some “new ideas”, yet there is an overwhelming sense that all the people there have already climbed the mountain.
If that’s true, where did all the other guys go? Surely there are some colleagues in your industry who don’t have all the answers. You know it’s true because you deal with some of them on a regular basis.
I never seem to meet the executives who are the “bad guys”; the ones who are bad bosses. Where do they go? Is there a bad boss conference that is secretly held at some discreet location halfway around the globe?
Or is it possible the bad bosses are just simply so bad they aren’t even aware they need help?
Enter the 80/20
The practical reality is The Pareto Principle. You may know it as the 80/20 rule. Yes, I firmly believe only about 20% of our business executives can be rated as good leaders. The other 80% might be rated as OK managers, but they fail to achieve effective leadership.
The good ones are the ones that keep looking for ways to improve. They are hungry to participate in industry groups, networking, TED Talks, round-tables, or workshops attended by other like-minded leaders. They keep growing. They even help facilitate and organize events to attract great leaders.
Sadly, the other 80% keep going to work making life relatively miserable for employees or volunteers.
When I try to broach this topic at a leadership mastermind, I get mixed responses. On one hand, I get reactions like the preachers see every Sunday at church. When a touchy subject is mentioned, people squirm in their seats, but look around as if to say, “certainly that is not me, it must be the other person over there”. On the other hand, I have people say “yes, I want to work on this”.
Executives who have been thrown into management roles are seldom fully prepared to be in the position. They were identified as a high potential or a leading single performer. For that effort, they are rewarded with a promotion into management. Yet they lack the preparation to lead, so there is a need to grow. The other option is the fake-it-until-you-make-it mindset. Maybe they will be successful, likely not.
Lastly, there is a small percentage of talent in the leadership pool who move around between companies and industries because they have achieved proven results. Then there are those “up-and-comers” who are demonstrating leadership talent and who will one day be the next wave of key leaders.
Where Are You?
Where do you fit in this spectrum? Have you recognized the need to do more or be more to be a better leader? There may be forces working against you.
When your company asks you to take on a management role, are you ready to accept it and admit you need help? Probably not. You dive in, using the same energy and zeal that got you recognized as a key contributor. You work harder. Maybe you spend more hours at the office or take work home.
The pressure will mount. Various things you try to do are received with mixed results. Some things work. Other things do not. Your team is getting restless. You know there is a gap in what the job requires versus what you can deliver. What can you do?
Three Things to Master
Maintain your confidence – stay true to yourself. You were selected because the company needed you in that job. They had a reason to give it a try. Be confident in knowing that. Come back to that truth as often as you need to. Use trusted advisors to prop up your confidence. Share what you can with close associates (not work colleagues).
Core competencies – there will be key elements of the job you should master. Whether it is technical knowledge or subject matter expertise, become the guru on those topics. Read more, search more; get the most information you can to show the team you have a mastery of the work.
Stay centered – don’t let the demands of the job take you off your game. Re-establish your core beliefs about who and what you are, how you can contribute, and the ways you can make a difference. Be true to those beliefs. Maintain an identity as the person you want to be at work. I’m not talking about arrogance. I’m talking about reliability and trust.
Highly effective and well-respected leaders didn’t get there by chance. They work an intentional plan. They grow, they seek counsel, and they are constantly learning.
Question: Where are you in the leadership growth process? You can leave a comment by clicking here.