Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


When A Leader Falls Behind - January 12, 2019

While I typically write about sales or sales management, and in many cases sales management can be an example within this week’s post, managers (i.e. Leaders) in any areas of business can be the target. Starting a new year off should bring about a positive attitude and level of excitement that is contagious within your organization. But, what happens when a leader falls behind?


I am working through this scenario now, where a business unit leader I know quite well is falling behind in her organization. Not only am I seeing a shift in her attitude, from genuinely enthusiastic and optimistic, to being more worried about new business coming in, almost to the point of panicking. Yet, her counterpart in the business unit is thriving, and could not be more excited about the growth of their organization. Is she afraid of growth? Or, is she afraid she cannot handle / manage the growth?


Having watched this scenario unfold for the past six months I believe we are witnessing a case of someone that is simply not equipped to be in a leadership position in a rapidly growing market. She is by no means a bad employee nor is she a bad person. Quite the opposite in fact. However, while many within her organization will speak highly of her technical qualifications, the same cannot be said about her leadership skills. Unfortunately, this is clearly a situation where she should be task focused on client work, and thus removed from a leadership role. So, what comes next?


As referenced above there is a counterpart in a co-leadership role within this organization. While I have been working with their CEO over the past few months, it is evident to this gentlemen that he should be rewarded for his knowledge, work ethic, and management capabilities by being given the single-lead role. I say he is aware because instead of boasting about how good he is, he is the epitome of team player. He continues to show support for his co-leader while he takes the lead in tough conversations and detailed business decision making.


Their team members have shown their growing level of respect and trust for him as well by their own actions. They seem to rely on his advice and guidance more than his co-leader. This is being witnessed throughout the organization. And, the CEO for whom I am engaged by, he too leans more on one versus the other.


In processing the circumstances, I have recommended a promotion for the one co-leader to become the main, single leader of the entire business unit. I am not suggesting a demotion or termination for the other, rather a shift in responsibility. It is best to have the right person in the right seat on the bus. To do so requires the CEO to make adjustments from time-to-time and will afford this woman the ability to put her skills to work where they are best suited. Relieving her of her leadership responsibilities may have a negative fallout and she may resign. That is a risk this organization must take in order to ensure the right leader is in the right seat. However, she may also breathe a sigh of relief and her work product may improve.


The moral of the story is this – leadership roles in any organization are too critical to allow the wrong person to be in the right seat – or the right person to be in the wrong seat. It must be addressed quickly in order to minimize the downsides of this wrong leader being in a seat they are simply not suited to be in.

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