When somebody is promoted, the merits of this decision are typically results based and presented as a reward for superior performance. In other words their future responsibility is predicated on past successes. This sounds logical but in reality it very often creates a major disconnect that can leave organizations reeling and, inevitably, regretting their decision.
The best way to illustrate this is the classic example of what happens to successful, high achieving salespeople. Though they may operate as part of a team they very often are individually driven and rewarded. And this inner drive leads to exceptional successes and high levels of remuneration. Then we encounter the sometimes fatal assumption; let’s makes this successful salesperson a manager and they will create clones of themselves and exponential success will be achieved.
Unfortunately however the fatal error being made is asking somebody who was firstly highly self motivated, to motivate others and that secondly his/her remuneration has become predicated on the successes of a team. The old and new position do not fit; yet organizations continue to do this all the time leading to an often ineffective manager and, most likely, an under performing team.
Promotion to a supervisory or management position should be predicated on the skills necessary to be successful in this new position. It’s not about what you did, but what you are capable of doing. And leading people is to a very large extent is contingent on one’s ability to effectively coach and guide. You can be aggressive, dictatorial, pushy and all those other well tested methods but inevitably that leads to sub-standard, unsustainable performance. Coaching is about facilitating, educating, listening, challenging and most importantly holding people accountable. This is not a “soft” approach. In fact when done appropriately it can be quite forceful but in a way that is respectful and authentic and leaves people feeling energized and motivated; drivers of success.
Succession planning and associated promotions are a serious challenge within all organizations. It very often moves individual contributors to team leaders. Be sure that the necessary skills exist or, at a minimum, are provided in advance of these moves. When you do, great individual contributors can become great leaders.