Making the leap from the sales floor to the management office and finally to the fancy director’s chair requires you to leap a number of leadership chasms.
According to Kieran Hearty, author of ‘How to Eat the Elephant in the Room’, despite a promotion, some sales people actually fail to leap the ‘chasm’ from worker to manager, or manager to leader successfully. The impact? Their reputation and value suffers.
For example, as a salesperson your relative value may be considered to be 25% and as a sales manager this should increase to 50%. However if you fail to leap the chasm successfully your relative value may not increase to anywhere near 50%. In some cases it may even fall to below 25% as you and, in turn your team, become ever less productive. Motivation goes down, productivity falls, and worst of all, the sales start to dip.
This is borne out by a recent Gallup survey concluded that 82% of managers are ‘wrongly appointed’.
When making the transition from sales person to sales manager, and then from sales manager to sales leader (or director), it’s necessary to leap two chasms. A successful leap will boost your reputation (both internal to the organisation, and externally) and it will increase your relative value (and your commission).
1st CHASM - Failed transition from Worker to Manager
A manager’s primary responsibility is their team’s output. Instead of focusing on coaching and supporting the team in order to maximise their output, you continue to focus on just your output. Overall productivity plummets.
As you become more stressed and exhausted your behaviour towards team members may also decline, which impacts morale.
The impact: Your value to the organisation, instead of rising towards 50%, falls dramatically. There is still some value in the individual tasks that you perform, but even this will erode as you continue to try to do everything.
How to successfully leap the 1st CHASM
- Change your attitude. You are now a Manager. Accept the job change!
- Rewrite your job description. Formalise your new responsibilities.
- It’s not about you! Your team doesn’t work for you. You work for them.
- Delegate. The more you can ‘let go’ the higher your value will rise.
- Be a coach. Ensure each team member has everything they need to succeed.
- Develop. Invest time in making each team member as capable as you were.
- Collaborate. Support other managers who depend on your team.
2nd CHASM - Failed transition from Manager (or Worker) to Leader
There are two levels to this chasm, the deepest of which is occupied by leaders who failed to leap the first chasm, but somehow continued their upward progression.
Successful managers demonstrate some solid leadership potential, but once again, they may need to ‘let go’ of a lot of their tactical focus in order to be more strategic.
One difference is that whereas the role of each manager should be to serve their team, the role of each leader is to serve their managers.
How to successfully leap 2nd CHASM
- Change your attitude. Your role has changed again.
- Be strategic. Let go of tactical work.
- Coach and develop your managers. A critical strategic imperative.
- Be a mentor. Spot and groom the right talent at all levels.
- Take responsibility. Learn from your people by listening to their feedback.
- Serve the company. Find opportunities to externally support the company.
- Communicate. Inform and energise your people every time they meet you.
Whilst the implication of the Gallup survey is that 82% of managers are not very good, there is also an indictment of any leader or HR person who sanctioned their appointments.
However whilst the implications are grave, the opportunity is great; by taking time to understand these chasms in greater depth, and to taking steps to ensure we, and the people we promote, can successfully leap them, we will help our businesses to grow and our teams to develop.
By Kieran Hearty, author of ‘How to Eat the Elephant in the Room’, Executive Coach, Consultant and Leadership Speaker with over 30 years’ experience across international technology and financial services companies.