One client I coach connects extremely well with two young people on his team. He helps them set up sales calls, coaches them on what to do next and provides a nurturing shoulder for them to lean on.
He also has several other salespeople on his team who do not fit the young, eager, positive, upbeat model, and he doesn’t connect with them nearly as well.
One person is a top performer who can be a bit of a bulldozer. Everything is important, and it is all done with an extreme sense of urgency. My client doesn’t care for her demeanor, so he rarely spends time with her.
He figured that she is setting sales records, so he’ll just leave well enough alone. But she is looking for a different kind of coach. She wants someone who will clear obstacles for her, someone who will recognize and praise her when she succeeds and someone who can serve as a sounding board when she has doubts.
So she sees my client as a do-nothing manager who benefits from her performance while giving nothing in return. While she is the first to say that he is a nice guy, she resents him because she thinks he doesn’t step up to the plate.
My client had to let another salesperson go because of poor performance. This person had been a top performer in his previous company, so he clearly had potential. But after six months on the job, it was obvious he wasn’t going to make it.
My client felt bad because he felt he didn’t spend enough time with him. He said he felt this guy was a top performer and that he wouldn’t need that much guidance. He tried to rationalize why he had not coached him
The truth of the matter is my client’s style, while perfect for the two young salespeople who are eager to listen to him and treat him as a father figure, does not work for either the top performer or the person who is struggling.
He is only able to coach inside his comfort zone, and that will keep him from growing as a leader until he changes his behaviors.
Susan Webb, executive vice president of JPMorgan Chase, said that early in her career, “My boss was furious with me.”
She and her team worked for weeks to come up with a performance improvement plan that she was introducing to the executive team. After her presentation, people started questioning the plan and asking Webb to consider other possibilities.
Webb was tired and didn’t expect people to say anything except, “Great plan.” She got defensive. The president of the company called the meeting to an abrupt ending.
Webb got on the elevator, and he got on with her. They rode down in total silence. Later that day, her boss gave her a call and asked to have breakfast with her the next morning. Over coffee, he said he had enormous faith in her and that she was extremely talented. But what he saw in that room was not the first time he’d seen it happen. He told Webb that she had a major flaw that could become her downfall if she didn’t change it.
He told her that she seemed to feel that she had to push people along to be with her, but what she really needed to learn was how to pull them toward her. He said the suggestions people were making were good and very minor and that they would make the project better.
But she wasn’t open to those suggestions because she was too close to her work. A project is never complete, and it is certainly never perfect, he told her. His message, particularly the way he delivered it, changed her and freed her up. She knows that everything she is working on is in a state of constant evolution and that it can only become better by considering everyone’s ideas.Filed under: Leadership Development