Have you ever wondered why reaching the top in business is not all that you hoped it would be, when you were lower down the ladder? The major 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 being a sports player, 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 …
- A winning mentality
- Being smart
- Working hard
- Self reliance
- Being a perfectionist.
These are great virtues ,and are 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, as I said before, now you’re playing a different game, there are different rules. Those positive attributes that have served you well so far 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:
A winning mentality
You feel that 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, so you need to let them shine. It’s like a big old oak tree, blocking out the light from the saplings below, meaning none will grow and flourish.
If you’re used to being the smartest person around, you may have a fear of employing people that are even smarter 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?
Running around doing stuff is not what leadership and management is about. It’s about getting other people to do the work. 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, and work ON your business, not IN it.
This is similar to working hard – the only person you feel you can truly rely on is yourself. 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.
Being a perfectionist
This normally comes with being smart. When you have one thing to do, you can perfect it. But in a management position, you have loads of different things to do, so you have to 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.
Time to change?
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. 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!
Remember – never wish life were easier, wish you were better! Learning new skills is the key to progression. So come and talk to us and we can help you make those changes that will lead you to greater success.