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You’re Only as Successful as Your Manager Allows You to Be

“A Manager is not a Leader, and a Leader is not a Manager”

All too often we promote, give raises, or place people in leadership positions as a result of their historical “successful” performance; subjective, of course, since success is generally solely determined by the manager giving the performance appraisal…this leads to the understanding that a person is only as successful as their manager allows them to be. Success is often defined by tenure, performance ratings, and in the worst cases, relationship. When the values and work habits of the follower are pleasing to a manager, the manager, in turn, places value on the person who exhibits them and provides a favorable performance review. On the other hand, when a manager does not value the characteristics or contributions a follower makes, they are less likely to provide a constructive performance review.

If a manager is seeking conformity or confirmation bias, he/she may not appreciate characteristics such as a follower being inquisitive and less likely to recognize them for the equivalent strengths, which may be innovative or creative. Oftentimes, these employees are labeled in one way or another as contrite, argumentative, difficult, lack of flexibility, etc. and therefore looked over for promotions. Until that is, another manager comes along that values these characteristics, recognizes the strengths, and places them in positions for greater exposure, success, and ultimately promotion. The reality is, we all have a unique set of strengths, values, experiences, and perspectives. A leader not skilled in open-mindedness, tolerance, or having a growth mindset, may miss the ingenuity that exists by learning to value characteristics that don’t come naturally to them, and will thereby end up with a team of similarity and unsustainability.

The conventional manner in which we promote has been considered a reward for tenure or “a job well done”. Rather, what if we promoted leaders based on the skills they have to inspire and influence team members in a way that would bring about job satisfaction and organizational success? The problem with conventional promotion is that we place people in positions of power who are incapable of genuinely desiring to see the success of others above themselves. Egotistical characteristics of title-hungry people or people with a “Be right" over a "Do Right” mindset start to permeate the organization, creating a culture of competitiveness, high stress, and low relationship. Further, and much more detrimental with this practice, is the outcome of poor efficiencies, low satisfaction, high turnover, and organizational demise.

Evidence has determined a relationship exists between personality characteristics to job satisfaction; concluding that when personality characteristics are strategically aligned to a particular role, it can result in increased workplace efficiency, job satisfaction, and employee retention. Translated to the role of a leader, when personality characteristics (such as to inspire and influence) are appropriately aligned to the right person, the efficiencies, level of satisfaction, and retention rates are compounded as they are then influenced upon the team members; resulting in improved organizational outcomes.

The most successful strategy, as revealed in my research, that positively influenced job satisfaction and mitigating turnover was individualization, which further supported the remaining two strategies revealed of communication and development. Employees desire a work environment in which they are recognized as a unique individual, with unique contributions, and unique needs. When they are treated as such, job satisfaction rose, and turnover decreased. A leader who refuses, or is incapable of individualizing their approach to team members and unable to place the needs and desires of the team above their own…well, that person is simply a manager!

It is time to dissolve the conventional wisdom of what constitutes promotable people and realize the leader role requires a unique skill set. We owe it to our teams and our organization to bring only these individuals who exhibit leadership skills into these roles. It should never be assumed, or even considered, that a person who performed well in one role, has the skill set necessary to promote to the next higher level.

Leadership is a Personality!

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