ARTICLE 2: “I’ve Been Promoted, Which Assumes I Understand What Makes People Effective”

How often have you come across the great ‘technician’ in a role who is ‘so good’ they are promoted to a team leader or manager? It is commonplace in many organisations. In my career, I have seen it countless times in the sales environment, although it can be witnessed across all industries.

You get the idea – a colleague wins the sales person of the year award, maybe more than once. They consistently outperform their peers, smashing whatever sales targets are set. They are given the ‘senior sales executive’ title, a pay increase, and a bigger car. What a star!

That best sales person gets a promotion to sales manager. Then it all goes horribly wrong. I have seen it happen on many occasions and not just in a sales environment.

It goes wrong because the skill set of leading a team of people is incredibly different. And the foundation of leadership is understanding why and how people differ in their behaviour. Without that understanding, the manager fails to carry out the most basic leadership. People skills are lacking and the tension rises.

Search any library and there will be much written about skills and competencies that make for a good leader. One such set of competencies is used by many of my clients. The 10 competencies are split into two groups or capabilities.

Interaction effectiveness is defined as ‘those behaviours between two or more people that result in the achievement of maximum productivity.’ This capability is supported by the first set of five competencies listed below.

Thinking effectiveness is defined as ‘the appropriate use of those thought processes that provide strategic and/or tactical leverage.’ This capability is supported by the second set of five competencies listed below.

While these 10 competencies are equally important for high levels of leadership and hence high-performing teams – there is one which stands out. The ability to be flexible in behaviour is a foundation on which all other skills and competencies are built.

To interact effectively, individuals need to be strong in the following skills:

  • Be flexible with interpersonal relationships;
  • Be clear communicators;
  • Have a win/win approach to negotiation;
  • Be able to coach and counsel others; and
  • Have a commitment to team work and building a high-performance team

To think effectively, individuals need to be strong in the following skills:

  • Be able to analyse perceptively;
  • Have a positive orientation;
  • Be able to innovate creatively;
  • Have a commitment to continuous learning; and
  • Take a positive approach to problem solving.

Developing these skills will enable the expert technician to create high levels of leadership and have a high-performing team. Unfortunately, many people are promoted without being equipped with these skills. The assumption is made that because they are great at what they do ‘technically,’ they will automatically be a great leader. Not so.