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Do Good Managers Make Lousy Leaders?

Do Good Managers Make Lousy Leaders?

Golden Question

As a manager, are you aware that your position as a manager encompasses two distinct roles – that of a manager of processes, and that of a leader of people? On the one hand, you have to build a strategy, organize, and manage resources to get the job done. And on the other hand you have to lead your team in a way that ensures the strategy is understood and implemented. Employees need to be engaged and have a desire to follow your direction, and employee engagement can be directly correlated with financial performance.

The Gallup Organization regularly conducts research and over decades has proven the link between high employee engagement levels and increased financial performance.

In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57 to 1. In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83 to 1.
Now that is a huge difference! Gallup states that, “actively disengaged employees erode an organizations bottomline while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process.” Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost US employers more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. You can read the full article from Gallup at http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/Employee-Engagement.aspx

Many good managers make lousy leaders because they fail to recognize that the criteria by which they are now being assessed in their own performance reviews has shifted from technical expert to being an expert on people. You need to know how to consistently get the most out of the people you are responsible for. You need to understand the vital role you play in your team members being fully engaged, or actively disengaged.

It’s usually very smart people such as managers who started their career as an engineer, technology or technical expert that find out the hard way that their brilliance and technical expertise is no longer the main criteria by which they are being assessed. Technical competence is only the entry fee you pay for being a manager. You now have to become world-class in relating with people, and inspiring your team members to be better than they even know they can be. It’s often as a result of a company feedback initiative, such as an employee engagement survey or management impact survey that a manager finds out just how underdeveloped their skills on the people side are. It can be hard to swallow.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many smart people who have been less effective in their leadership role. I’ve helped many newer managers, as well as many seasoned managers, who are ready to improve their leadership capability. Leadership is a fascinating area and I want to share with you all that I’ve learned and continue to learn as a leadership coach, so that you can become the best leader you are capable of, and produce better results than you can possibly now imagine. Even if you are good at the leading role right now; if you have the mindset of continual learning, you will always find another level of world-class performance that you can move toward.

Each article will offer a perspective on becoming a better leader, not just a great manager. I will offer suggestions of actions to experiment with and maybe a model – something practical for you to try out for yourself. Here is the first set of actions!

Actions to Experiment With

• Watch this short video I’ve recorded for you.

You will find an explanation of a simple model for determining a team members level of readiness to take on a task or project, and how to adapt your leadership style to support the growth in their competence and confidence.

Click Here to Download a PDF Overview of the Skill/Will Matrix

After you’ve watched the video, think of a personal experience you’ve had where you were led in the right way. Which quadrant did your manager use with you? Now think of a personal experience where you were led the wrong way. Which quadrant were you in, and which quadrant did your manager use instead to lead you? What were the implications of each experience, on your own competence, your confidence, and your motivation?

For those who watched the video all the way through you can download a bonus expanded version of the model.

To your success,


Leadership Coach to Technical Professionals

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