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Posted: March 02, 2011

Mortal blow #2: Managers who can’t lead

They need to understand the people-side

Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Editor's note: This article is the second in a five-part series on the "Five mortal blows guaranteed to kill your culture," inspired by A&P CEO Sam Martin. Read part 1.

If I asked you to change offices with the person down the hall, your first question would probably be "Why?" It's human nature to want to know what's behind the decision-making process and how changes will affect us. How amazing, then, that most managers never bother to tell why much of anything is happening in their organizations. We tend to hire and promote managers based on their technical skills and business experience-or even on their seniority. Few check to see whether new managers have even an inkling about human nature.

These new managers may be good at identifying problems and finding solutions, but they can't execute effectively unless they have the full cooperation of their people. Without understanding and consideration of the people side, managers will be met with resistance, apathy, productivity loss, turnover, delays, and/or cost overruns-any of which can damage customer relationships. This is especially true during high growth and change conditions, the continuous states of today's businesses. Your managers need the ability to lead.

When leadership goes missing

Without knowing how to lead, even the best managers can fail to meet expectations because they:

• Can't motivate their teams
• Are intimidated by others who have more expertise or experience
• Lack the skills and confidence to overcome obstacles
• Avoid challenges and problems
• Can't provide the vision to achieve desired results

It seems unfair to leave well-meaning managers with the emotional trauma of failure when what most of them need is training. Developing your managers is the first step in predicting change, preparing for it, and executing to meet internal and external challenges to growth. Managers who aren't trained in leadership skills cannot grow your business and should not be leading a team.

If you build your people, you'll build your business

Leadership, which is at the heart people skills, can be learned. Every one of your managers needs to be trained in core leadership skills such as communication, planning and goal-setting, delegating, and resolving conflict.

Managers who are also leaders ensure that their teams understand both business issues and goals, and motivate them to support solutions and participate in change initiatives. They understand that they can't simply provide information; they need to create a dialogue with employees that generates innovation and efficiencies, and eliminates barriers to success.

Managers who are leaders mentor, coach, recognize and reward, and celebrate their people-if you teach them how. They can begin by learning to answer the simple question "why?"

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is founder and CEO of TalenTrust, a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firm that helps companies accelerate their growth by hiring exceptional talent. TalenTrust LLC is located in Golden, CO. Kathleen is president of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334 x5.

 Link to other articles in the series.
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Kathleen Quinn Votaw is founder and CEO of Golden-based TalenTrust, a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firm that helps companies accelerate their growth by hiring exceptional talent. Kathleen is president of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334 x5.

 

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Readers Respond

As a Marine Corps Officer with over 19 years (both active and reserve time) and 2 combat tours under my belt, I concur with your comments regarding Mortal Blow #2. Having also served in management in corporate America for 12 years while serving in the reserves I have seen plenty of examples of managers who don't understand the basics of leadership. I am far from being an expert in leadership but I've noticed that corporate managers have often simply not had the same intensive leadership training and experience that military members have had unless they are prior military. It is my wish that more civilian employers understood leadership as well as how to effectively employ former military members who possess leadership skills. Thanks for the article. By Eric Brosch on 2012 08 21

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