Who should I choose to lead?

handsinairArticle contributed by Amy Sargent

When looking to fill a managerial position, promoting a reliable, hard-working employee seems to make sense, and happens often.  We think, “She’s such a good staff member and consistently completes her projects with expertise – she’s the obvious choice to lead our team”

But the gulf between being a doer and a leader can be vast, especially if the individual lacks social and emotional intelligence – specifically, the competency of coaching and mentoring others.

A Gallup study released in 2015 found that approximately 50% of the surveyed employees left a job to get away from their manager. The impact of this kind of turnover on a company’s bottom line can be staggering, leading us to conclude that it is imperative to get the right person into leadership roles.

How can you spot someone who has this ability to lead— one who can sense the team’s capabilities and give them the tools and experiences that will help them develop to their fullest potential? Keep an eye out for these three telltale qualities:

  • They take time to learn about and get to know their coworkers. They have a good grasp of the personal goals of those around them, and understand the hurdles that may be preventing him/her from reaching them.
  • They show a genuine interest in helping their colleagues improve their performance and at times have provided solid support and direction when needed.
  • They demonstrate on a regular basis that they clearly recognize both the strengths and blind spots in their teammates, yet treat each individual with the same amount of respect.

To put it succinctly, I’ve modified Brian Tracy’s quote below, substituting the word “managers” for “people”:

“Successful people [managers] are always looking for opportunities to help others.  Unsuccessful people [managers] are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’” – Brian Tracy

So what qualities are yellow flags when choosing a manager? Someone who may potentially struggle as a leader probably doesn’t like to delegate and believes that individually, they can do the best job. They are restless in meetings, especially when collaboration is necessary. They are annoyed at having to share details of their personal work projects with others and don’t enjoy communicating the details with teammates. They may resent having to receive and give feedback and only do it when necessary (at performance reviews, for example). They find it a waste to time to connect with their colleagues on a personal level and most likely don’t know the names of their teammates’ spouses, children, and pets. Time spent with coworkers after-hours is minimal. They are feared more than liked and others do not naturally turn to them to share struggles, doubts, or missteps.

Just because an employee is coming up short in the area of coaching and mentoring others, though, doesn’t mean you should write him/her out of your managerial prospect book forever. Social and emotional intelligence can be learned, and with the help of a trained coach, a solid self-assessment—and a willingness to learn – an individual can begin to develop and hone his/her interpersonal skills and move toward a managerial mindset.  And if you’ve got the skills, consider setting aside time to mentor him/her toward growth by modeling both in and out of the workplace what good coaching and mentoring looks like.  Benjamin Franklin summed up the value of coaching and mentoring others like this: “The greatest good you can do another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.”

Taking the time needed to put the right manager in place will have positive long-term effects on your organization.  In an article in Forbes.com, contributor Amy Rees Anderson puts it like this:

 “When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization…The result of good leadership is high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success.” 

One Response to “Who should I choose to lead?”

  • I’ve been in the tech space for many years and the star performers are the ones that display the highest EQ. We have even introduced an emotional intelligence training course at our company to help support and develop everyones careers.

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