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5 common obstacles that prevent good leaders from becoming great

September 8, 2011 by Bob Hill
Posted in: communication, Facility Management, Human Resources, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, Leadership, Operations


Some execs are held back by these simple missteps.  

The majority of managers at Fortune 1,000 companies never become effective leaders, according to a ConceptReserve study.

Why not? Well, the largest contributing factor is the fact that 50% of managers who are promoted from within still feel a constant pressure to fulfill the duties of an everyday employee, in addition to their new role – a reality which isn’t only distracting, it also makes them feel overwhelmed and reluctant to delegate tasks to others.

Here are the top five misconceptions that cause managers to think that way:

  1. “Being a great player will translate into me being a great coach”: Being a top performer may cause other employees to respect your ability, but successful leaders need to place more emphasis on big-picture initiatives that have a more significant overall impact (e.g., New ways to attract prospects, tap into new markets or increase annual revenue, etc.).
  2. “It’s not my problem”: Front-line employees are generally responsible for their own results, and no one else’s. As a leader, you may not create the obstacles, but it’s ultimately up to you to come up with effective strategies for dealing with them.
  3. “The people I manage are just like me”: It’s often said that the toughest part of being an effective leader is managing a wide array of personalities. Rather than try to change people, great leaders work to understand what motivates them, using that as a means of inspiring them to do great things.
  4. “Great employees don’t need my help.”: In most departments, 80% of productivity is the direct result of 20% of that department’s top staffers. Top managers spend the bulk of their time keeping those employees motivated and on top of their game, rather than focusing all their efforts on chronic low-performers who have very little impact on the bottom line.
  5. “Being an expert is the key to winning respect”: There once was a manager who said to his mentor, “Every day I tell employees what they need to do to be successful, but nobody ever listens to a word I say.” The mentor replied, “Instead of telling them, why not ask where they feel they have the most opportunity for improvement and then ask how you can help.”

There are intricacies to every situation, but here are two common ways good managers make the transition into great leaders:

  1. Develop and delegate: In most organizations, there’s pressure from upstairs for the manager to take on too much (and/or still perform the duties of a salesperson). Great leaders create new roles that energize employees by making them feel like they’re moving up in the organization. Managers can delegate tasks like training and development to those salespeople, which frees up more time for the manager to focus on big-picture initiatives.
  2. Relinquish some control: Most managers are unwilling to trust others to handle what they view as their responsibility. Here’s a great way to overcome that: Choose two responsibilities for veteran employees to handle. Once you see how much more successful you can be by building a management team around you, the more apt (and motivated) you’ll be to getting others involved.
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