Something is Wrong With JohnFeb 15, 2023
There was an issue with John.
He was six months into a new role, and not cutting it.
That’s where I stepped in. His boss, Sarah asked me to help. My job was to coach John in his new leadership role. The consensus was that he had issues with communication. He tended to be negative. He wasn’t much of a leader. I was hired to fix him.
My specialty is transition. In or out. Exiting the old, embracing the new. Helping execs to skillfully step into the role is complicated. Every situation is unique.
My job was to transform John into a positive and inspiring leader.
First, the inquiry.
I conducted interviews with several people who worked with John. Everyone has an opinion. Opinions are interesting, but not necessarily true. I’m the person you tell. I talked to John, his peers, members of his team, and his boss, Sarah. I listened carefully. This is what I found:
He was promoted to replace Sarah. In the beginning, Sarah helped him quickly learn the ropes. That was months ago. Now he feels micromanaged and 'smothered' in his role. He agrees that he is not stepping up. He is discouraged and unsure. Sarah attends his meetings and takes over. She wants to be CCD on everything, whether it's in her job description or not. There are fuzzy boundaries between his duties and hers. This is zapping his energy and engagement in his role. He has started to engage with recruiters.
Sarah expected John to get up to speed quickly. Instead, he is struggling to lead. She feels a great deal of stress. She works additional hours to do her job and his. She is angry and frustrated. She advocated for John's promotion, but now she isn't sure he can do the job. He can’t make decisions and asks questions to which he should know the answer. She questions her decision to promote him.
In addition, Sarah was promoted to a very demanding role. She is struggling with her new role. Balancing the two isn’t working. She needed John to step up quickly; yet didn’t think he was up to the task.
Kevin is Sarah’s boss. He knows that she is smart and capable, but fears that she may be in over her head.
Kevin’s leadership style is hands-off. He believes in developing executives by letting them use their strengths and providing an atmosphere of trust. He is a big vision – bottom line personality.
Kevin expected Sarah to do more on the job, Technically, she did the job; however, this position required her to bring creativity and strategy into the role. He was waiting for that to happen. He mentioned that she ‘was using half her brain’.
Let’s start at the top, Kevin. He was inadvertently the snowball that rolled downhill. He assumed Sarah could do the job. Sarah needed leadership guidance, his hands-off attitude left her unsure about the role.
Sarah stepped into her first executive role feet first, it was a new experience for her. It was harder than she thought. She had nightmares that she would be fired. She knew that she needed to do more but wasn’t clear about what was expected of her.
So, she held on to her old job. Her old job became her security blanket. The transition was difficult for her. Sarah had to let go and embrace her new role.
John was failing. He complained about Sarah’s micromanagement, yet he depended on her. He needed to build his confidence to lead meetings, make decisions, and be the leader he wanted to be.
Nobody needed to be fixed.
The transition was the issue.
Yes, there was a happy ending.
The stories are complicated and interesting. These are just highlights.
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