3 reasons that inspired me to coach managers & leaders
If you are a manager and aspiring to become leader, this blog will first help you understand why management is challenging, especially in fast scale environment.
1. High expectations for managers & leaders
Fundraisings and valuations have never been so high. In fact, 2021 has been a record setter in terms of fundraising and IPOs. Indeed, it is exciting to see that Venture Capital is investing heavily in startups and scaleups. Besides, it is great that the valuations of tech companies are breaking records.
If we could go for one example: Apple is worth 3000 billions dollars! To put this number into perspective, if Apple was a country, the company would represent the world’s 5th economy (by GDP) just behind Germany and ahead of countries like the UK or France.
All these investments constitute great opportunities: more resources for companies, more jobs, better services provided, etc…
However, when investment is high, expectations coming from the top of the pyramid are just as high. Results and numbers are becoming the true north.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no such thing as a successful business led without any data-driven mindset. But just like anything else, excess of something becomes difficult to handle more often than not.
I have coached a countless number of managers and leaders going through hyper-growth and rapid scale. They all really struggled with the following questions:
- How do I hire the right people as soon as possible?
- How am I going to fit in all the extra work while I have the same amount of working hours?
- How can I continue driving results with a bigger target to achieve?
- How do I keep everyone motivated?
- How will I be able to manage all of this simultaneously ?
These questions make it tough to manage and lead today. And rightfully so.
2. Lack of leadership framework
I’ve had the chance to provide coaching for the past six years. I witnessed that managers and leaders were constantly asking for help but often struggled to receive support. Here are the two main reasons that may explain why:
- Assuming that transitioning from individual contributor (IC) to management is a linear progression
There are many opportunities to leverage when companies are growing. Growth creates more career opportunities, especially through internal mobility.
Today, the most common practice to promote talents internally is based on performance. And that’s the right thing to do. A company will look at top performers and will promote talents who demonstrated great achievements and show high potential.
However, this promotion is far from being linear. Transitioning from IC to Management is a big shift : inspiring leadership is about helping people to become the very best at what they do. This mission undoubtedly requires strong human skills.
- C-levels are overwhelmingly busy
Coaching managers and leaders is a collaborative approach between Coachee (Managers or Leaders), Coach and C-levels, while respecting the confidentiality of coaching conversations.
Most C-levels are keen on helping and supporting their managers. It’s actually quite rare to witness C-levels ignoring this critical part of their job. But how can they support their team when they are overwhelmed themselves?
Let’s not forget that the C-levels are on the front line with the board and investors who have, as we saw above, high expectations regarding results, competition, strategic changes, political and legal changes etc… Thus, they often prioritize business and results over support and coaching.
I know what you may be thinking:
“But if managers get support and coaching, the results follow, so it doesn’t make much sense”.
And I definitely agree with you!
The truth is, support and coaching is a long term investment, while hypergrowth needs quick results, which is a double edged sword. On top of that, it takes courage to push for long term gain while the company investors are asking for short term gain.
Besides, some of them might not have the skills to coach managers. Indeed, coaching is not a simple casual conversation, talking about problems and solutions. There are certifications, programs, techniques and skills to master.
Not all C-levels possess this skillset and it’s perfectly fine. They can either get some trained help externally or, even better, strengthen their own skillset first, then support their teams themselves.
3. Uncertain times present a new set of challenges for managers and leaders
When we hit uncertain times, which can affect our health or even our future prospects, this is often then that things get tougher.
There is no denying the past two years have been difficult for businesses: redundancies, bankruptcies, not to mention the personal trauma people have been through. There are four main elements that made this period tough:
- Company decisions
In order to keep the company alive, some tough decisions had to be made such as redundancies. I have witnessed first-hand the devastating impact this may have, both on managers and IC’s.
- Managing remotely: unprecedented and different habits
When we go back to the beginning of 2020, no one was prepared to fully work far from offices. Managing people remotely requires a different style, subtle mix of trust and flexibility, yet still managing.
- Managing individuals who are not in a good place.
This is a sensitive one. Sensitive because this is where conversations get private and personal. And the first question is:
“As a manager / a leader, where do I draw the line? Is there a hard stop?”
There is no black or white answer here. And yes we have to have these conversations. I believe the best approach is to lead with compassion and the challenge is to not get overwhelmed by showing too much empathy.
Which leads us to the last point…
- Like all of us, you go through tough times yourself
I am going to open up a bit here. I recently was in the midst of a storm myself. And this is what inspired me to build the Slim Method. I went through tough times during the pandemic like most of us did, and it was hard to be a manager.
It was hard to be at home working. It was hard to help my team when I needed help myself. It was hard to see clear when everything was blurry and uncertain. This is such a deep challenge that it cannot be fixed with a simple “checklist to manage a team remotely” or “10 things to know on how to manage during Covid”.
It’s all about PEOPLE. We do not manage employees. We manage PEOPLE. And this includes background, culture, strengths, weaknesses, bias, limiting beliefs, passion, energy, feelings and emotions.
And so are we: before being managers or leaders, we are humans with a mix of all these complex characteristics.
I’m eager to read your comments and feedback on what has been written today. This article is one point of view and definitely not the only one, so feel free to make this content richer with your own input :)