Have you ever wondered why reaching the top is not all that you hoped it would be, when you were lower down the ladder? The biggest reason that managers and directors find life at the top so hard is that the skills that got them into that position can act against them when they are there. It’s not like a sport, where you just get better at one thing. Everything changes when you get to the top of your business, and you are actually playing a completely different game.
Let’s look at some of the attributes you needed during your trip to the top …
- Winning mentality
- Being smart
- Working hard
- Being self reliant
These are great virtue,s and very useful when climbing the ladder, but all will potentially stop you in your tracks when you get to the top. So why is that? Well, now you’re playing a different game, there are different rules, and those positive attributes can now have negative impacts in the new game.
So let’s look at the negative aspects of these traits that are in play when you are at the top of your organisation and leading others:
Winning mentality – you have to win, and this can lead you to compete against the upcoming stars of the future. That’s fine on the tennis court, but these people are actually the future of your business, and you need to let them shine. It’s like a big old big oak tree, blocking out the light from the saplings below, meaning none will grow.
Being smart – if you’re used to being the smartest, you may have a fear of employing smarter people than you, in case they show you up. Therefore you limit the performance of the team to the level of your capability, which will hold the business back. Another negative impact is that if a tricky job has to be done, guess who ends up doing it?
Working hard – running around doing stuff is not what management is about. Getting others to do the work is. If you are spending all your time fixing things, then who is steering the ship and watching out for icebergs? You have done your hard work, now you have to do the smart work.
Being self-reliant – similar to working hard – the only person you can truly rely on is yourself, because your perception is that everybody else just lets you down or can’t do things as well as you can. But if that is really the case, then sack them all and go back to working for yourself. You employed these people, so you only have yourself to blame if they’re not performing how you want.
Perfectionism – normally comes with being smart. When you have one thing to do, you can perfect it. In management you have loads of different things to do, so get used to being good enough and moving on. If something really is that important, get somebody else to do the detail. Think of yourself like a surgeon. Somebody else closes up once you have performed the operation, because your time is more valuable.
In his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, Marshall Goldsmith explores the traits that have held thousands of managers all across the world back from achieving their full potential, and in his latest book “Triggers”, he shows how to overcome deep rooted behavioural changes for the betterment of the individual and the teams in which they operate.
Changing these behaviours that have proven so successful for you in the past is not easy. It’s no different to giving up smoking, losing weight or getting fit. His answer is that self-discipline (doing what you don’t want to) and self-control (not doing what you want to) are key to making these changes, and coaching is the only thing that will truly help you through this process. So basically, getting to the top of your organisation means more hard work and new skills to learn!
If you want to learn more, do please give us a call. I even have a few of Marshall Goldsmith’s great books to give away, so act now!