I know you’re in hot pursuit of flushing CEO Disease out of your leadership system. Thus allow me to highlight one symptom of CEO Disease for you to evaluate.
If you’re an organizational leader and you promote people within your company or teams solely on technical skills, mechanical job performance, or because of their tenure—and after all it’s just their turn to move on up—then you’re inadvertently feeding CEO Disease.
Something that will weaken your immune system as a leader and infect the immune system of your entire company culture, is promoting and rewarding people, near exclusively, on technical competencies and foregoing the soft skills.
Gallup CEO, Jim Clifton, highlights an underlying symptom of CEO Disease when he says, "The single biggest decision you make in your job [as a leader]—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing."
According to a 2015 Gallup study, companies put the wrong people in managerial roles (read hold someone up as a leader within the company) 82% of the time.
And say it with me now, People don’t leave companies, people leave bad managers.
As an organizational leader, what are you to do with this information?
Take a serious and deliberate pause to evaluate the people you either put or have allowed to assume leadership roles throughout your company. Are they in these positions because of tenure within the company, experience on a resume, or technical skills alone? Are they leaders in title only?
Or have you chosen and empowered people to be in leadership roles because they actually have the leadership traits needed to be successful and to care for the health of your company (sick companies, with ill-equipped leaders, don’t turn a profit for very long)?
While technical skills are certainly important, because no matter how catchy The Beatles are, we can’t just live on love. However, according to the Gallup report, The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, the majority of managers are just wrong for their roles.
Somehow, “...it is the rite of passage in most organizations that if you are very good at your job—whether it be in sales, or accounting, or any number of specialties—and stay around a long time, the next step in your progression is to be promoted to manager,” says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist. “But the talents that make a person successful in a previous, non-management role are almost never the same ones that will make them excel as a manager.”
And managers, the mini leaders throughout your company, have the greatest impact on employee engagement and driving your overall leadership vision. Who you choose to be a manager is the single most important decision you can make as an organizational leader.
The best product, proforma, promotional calendar, and professional plan will totally fail without great managers—who are leaders in practice and not just in title—to drive your company toward success.
While you evaluate the current positions of your current team, or choose your next manager, consider these 5 leadership traits before elevating someone to a leadership position:
1. Do they emphasize the strengths of others, over weaknesses? Successful leaders deliberately get to know their team members, discover what makes them tick, what they excel at, and then empower, motivate, and inspire others to work out of a place of strength rather than just giving them work to strengthen their weaknesses.
2. Do they have a positive attitude? The manager (or leader) of the team sets the temperature for how everyone under them will behave. No matter how hard-working, no matter how driven, no matter how technically competent someone is, nothing will eat at the health of your organization (and ultimately the overall productivity) more than a systemically negative disposition.
3. Are they open to feedback? If someone is resistant to feedback, you don’t want them leading others or you’ll just promote someone with CEO Disease and you’re trying to get rid of it yourself. The best people to lead people are those who are eager to evolve and improve. And not only are they open to feedback, they seek it out for themselves.
4. Can they can admit when they’re wrong? Pride may go before a falling, but humble people just make better leaders. With humility, the falls don’t have to hurt as bad. No one can be right all the time (and if you think you are, you’re delusional). Being able to say those three little words I was wrong, is a sign of great leadership potential.
5. Do they resolve conflict? Conflict in companies and with people in general is inevitable. Leaders you want to promote are the people or are eager to resolve conflict, not feed it.
And by the way, do you reflect the above 5 leadership traits? Leadership starts at the top and trickles down to the rest of your organization. So if you are to have a hope and a prayer of finding these leadership characteristics in others, you best be practicing them yourself.
Learn the other six symptoms of CEO Disease in my leadership ebook, Is CEO Disease Crippling Your Company? How to Diagnose and Treat It Before It’s Too Late.
This leadership ebook is a gift to you and a practical guide to help you on your leadership journey. I hope it is a value add to you as a leader.
P.S. In addition to hiring and promoting for technical skills, learn 6 other symptoms of CEO Disease in my leadership ebook.
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