Years ago, when I was working within a church ministry, there was a young man who wanted to be seen as a leader very, very badly.
At the time I was 34 years old and he was 22.
With a high school jock vibe about him, he was 6’2 and very aware of how handsome he was. He worked hard to hang out with the pastor and the leadership team, believing he belonged there.
I had serious doubts.
It concerned me that someone so young and inexperienced was so fully embraced by the leadership team. I could see his lack of maturity. Why couldn’t they?
For reasons that are beyond me, they put him in a mid-level leadership position. And, as I secretly suspected, it didn’t last long before he did something that proved he wasn’t quite ready for that level of leadership.
I tell this story because I see a similar scenario play out with greater frequency.
Fakes, Phonies, Poseurs and Wannabees
During my clubbing days in the 80’s and 90’s, we had a word for those who tried to pull off a certain look without really being a true believer.
They were trying to hack their way into coolness.
Instead of really being interested, for instance, in punk rock, they’d dress the part but didn’t live the truth.
And those who were the real punk rockers could spot them a mile away. The poseurs often would be ridiculed, derided, mocked and eventually shunned.
The same is happening today with entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs.
There are definitely a lot of smart entrepreneurs running around. But there are some who have absolutely no track record of accomplishing anything significant in their field and they’re trying to pass themselves off as an expert.
And they’re failing.
Management 101: You Need to Know How to Follow Before You Can Lead
I have been amazed over the past year by the amount of people I see in management positions who quite simply, have never managed people. I am boggled by their ability to secure such a position.
I’ve seen LinkedIn profiles that have people hop-scotching all over the job market. Five months here. Seven months there. Barely one year at another company. Then suddenly they’re put in charge of people. What a mistake.
We have a case of the blind leading the blind, which is unfortunate. For many young entrepreneurs who had their company take off like a rocket, they are ill-equipped to discern management skills. They lack these skills, themselves. It’s no surprise that they often hire based on personality rather than accomplishment.
The track record just isn’t there. And before anyone says that this is a refreshing change because there aren’t any “bad habits” to unlearn, think again.
A good manager knows how to balance the needs of the company with the needs of those she manages.
She is equally the advocate of both the company and the employee. She is able to communicate the company’s mission to the employees in a clear, confident manner while taking into consideration the employee’s aptitude, attitude, skills and talents to help the company achieve that mission.
This is a huge challenge.
And so many of the young managers right now – those who have absolutely zero experience with managing anyone – are at a serious disadvantage. And so is their employer.
Unqualified Managers Ruin Teams… And Companies
It’s interesting how many young entrepreneurs put so much stock into the overused chestnut: Hire for attitude, train for skill.
I don’t think that works.
And Forbes agrees with me.
In a not-so-recent article, Forbes said this (emphasis mine):
But, attitudes will only get you so far, and when real change is needed — innovation, for example — then attitudes are not likely to be enough to get you to where you want to go. In such situations, you need skills, and lots of them.
Hiring for skills, instead of attitude, changes everything. For one thing, if you do it right, and that means hiring the best obtainable, rather than simply settling for the best available, you’re going to be looking at a team of ambitious high-performers, not a team of happy-campers.
…when Miles Davis put together what has been referred to as “the all-time classical hydrogen bomb and switchblade band,” made up of Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Wayne Shorter, he selected players “who knew more about music than he did.” He wasn’t afraid to so because he wanted to achieve something that no one else had ever done musically before, and he needed new skills to accomplish this!
I recommend reading the entire article because it nails a truth so often overlooked.
Hire the wrong people and your company will be blocked from moving forward.
Hire the wrong people and sometimes your company will actually move backwards.
When a team is mismanaged, it leads to discontent. Discontent leads to poor performance and poor performance leads to poor service and products – not to mention a lack of creativity and innovation.
Curse of the Micro-Manager
When you have an employee who is out of her depth, she often overcompensates. She knows she’s in a place she’s never been before. She knows people are watching, including her boss.
So a new manager with no prior management experience will micro-manage.
Since she doesn’t know how to manage anything, she’ll try to manage everything.
And if you’ve ever been micro-managed, you know how hellish this can be.
Especially if you have more experience in a certain area than the manager.
That situation usually generates resentment on the part of a competent, skilled employee and insecurity in a manager.
The whole team knows what’s going on. What is astounding is how often those at the top don’t know what’s going on.
The answers are simple but not easy.
First, don’t hire managers who have no experience managing people. To me that’s pure common sense. But as we know, common sense isn’t so common anymore.
Second, if you’re someone who was hired as a manager and you’ve never done it before, you definitely need help. Get training. Find a mentor. Read some good books on management. There’s a lot more to it than “being good with people.”
And finally, if you’re an entrepreneur, please tread lightly and carefully in this area. You probably want your business to be wildly successful so you can sell it for millions of dollars and travel around the world. Or maybe buy a Rolex Submariner.
To get to that “wildly successful” part, you need the right people with the right skills. Don’t hire a poseur. Hire someone who has actually achieved something. Someone who has a track record.
Because one of the best things someone can say about you and your success is this, “He knows how to surround himself with the right people.”
As someone wise said, if you’re the smartest person in the room… you’re in the wrong room.