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What happened to me when I became CEO, could happen to you…

The pitfalls for Exco members failing to adjust their skillsets. An open article from Elmarie Pretorius.

Often, a person becomes the manager because they are technically the best. Basically, their technical skills enabled them to reach the level of managing others. But managers are not necessarily good leaders. Most of the time there is no mentoring of the individual so overnight they’ve become the manager and suddenly everything they knew technically is not as relevant. Now they have to be less involved with the actual task and participate more in the strategy of the business. 

I’ve personally experienced this. I was a publisher the one day and the next day the CEO of the publishing house. So believe me when I tell you, that although the promotion was a huge feather in the cap for me, it had quite a few challenges I wasn’t totally prepared for. I unexpectedly felt that I was doing less because I had all these people running around frantically doing their own jobs. So what was my job? What was I supposed to do?

In order to continue to feel that I was adding value I inadvertently started meddling.  I went and meddled because I was desperately seeking a sense of achievement. I wanted to go home and say, look what I did. I soon realised that there was a risk of micro-managing. When you’re managing and leading people, you need to focus more on communicating and motivating others and less on the to do list.  This is easier said than done and if the new requirements and areas of achievement are not spelled out, you may feel as if you are left out in the cold.

Another problem new managers face is the presumption that in order to create followers, they must be likeable. So, they tend to be too nice. When they realise this isn’t working, they tend to be too aggressive. Assertiveness is a combination of firm and friendly. Once you become too nice you will battle to enforce discipline. For me, emotional intelligence was a key ingredient in the successes I had as a team leader. You have to deal with people with empathy. Empathy becomes fairness, and this is incredibly important to people. They want to be treated fairly. They want to be heard.

Another pitfall is that managerial staff don’t sit with their teams and give them rules of engagement. It is important to regularly get the team together, discuss what makes everyone happy or unhappy and get that magical team unity. Your team need to understand that although they are allowed to disagree with you, they have the choice to back you. This creates alignment of the team, an important aspect of leadership. 

Because I learnt the hard way, I started my own company over 8 years ago called The Mindspa Institute to assist others by sharing the knowledge I gained. We customise courses in skills like developing your leadership and team alignment to name but a few, specifically to assist with bridging these pitfalls. Our courses are presented in and around South Africa with our recent focus being Cape Town businesses. We have a footprint in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria