Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2. Listen: No one knows everything! Your job is to lead, not to be an expert on every issue!

Make sure you have the best people in your organization and then listen to them. You cannot win on your own!

In the best of all worlds people get promoted to management positions because they were perceived as being good at their old job. If they perform well in that management position they could get promoted to a higher one. It might not be unreasonable for someone who has been promoted many times and finds themselves in higher management positions to start believing that they are gifted! They might start thinking that the reason they are the boss is because they are better or brighter than the “normal” employees. Nothing is further from the truth. If I where to come to the conclusion that I really was smarter or better than all of my employees I would leave the company! A company where I am the smartest guy is bound to get beaten by its competitors!

I recently spoke at a conference for sales managers and I asked them to raise their hands if they were the best salesman in their company prior to being promoted to sales manager. About 2/3 of the people raised their hands! I would not argue that the best salesman couldn’t be a good sales manager, nor would I argue that a mediocre salesman couldn’t also be a great sales manager. The skill set needed to lead salespeople is not the same skill set that is required to be a great salesman!

Some years ago I got promoted from a marketing manager position to be the president of Whirlpool Corporation’s Swedish sales organization. In the beginning it was very hard for me to keep my nose out of the marketing manager’s job. I really thought I could do his job better than he could and was never really satisfied with his performance. It took some time before I realized that he just did things differently, not worse, than I would have! Even if I acknowledge that sometimes “my way” might have been better than his it was not significantly better. Finally, one day my marketing manager came to me and said that he thought I was a great marketing manager but he wondered who was running the company while I was doing his job?

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