From Driving and Directing to Coaching and DevelopingRecently I was coaching, “John,” a very successful entrepreneur who’d built his company from a small to mid-sized player in their industry. His goal was to become one of the major companies in their market.

We were reviewing his 360 assessment report. Feedback from 21 direct reports, peers, and others rated him very high in technical expertise, taking initiative, driving for results, strategic perspective, and connecting to customers. However, developing others was a major weakness creating a huge drag on his leadership effectiveness.

We talked about how much harder it was becoming for John to keep up as the company grew. He was reaching a burnout point.

John’s at a classic fork in the road of high growth companies. His considerable strengths fueled the organization’s growth. But as the company grows, being that hard driving engine that powers everyone forward gets tougher and tougher. John’s choice is to keep hitting the accelerator and power on through or build a team and organization that shares the load and eventually soars way beyond what one person can do himself.

Years ago, I worked with a leader who couldn’t switch from being the star player to becoming a coach and team builder. After taking his company public and accelerating growth, he got to the point of working 100 hour weeks. He slowly burned himself out as his frustration grew. He couldn’t understand why his team wasn’t stepping up and taking more responsibility. They were frustrated as he showed diminishing confidence in them, took an ever-stronger command and control role, and hollowed out their jobs. Many left or were let go. The company’s no longer in business.

We’re now helping John make the critical transition from driving and directing to coaching and developing:

From

To

Commanding Coaching
Solving Problems Enabling Others to Solve Problems
Directing and Controlling Teaching and Engaging
Seeing People as They Are Developing People Into What They Could Be
Empowering Partnering
Operating Improving
Pushing Pulling
Heroic Manager Facilitative Leader
Quick Fix to Symptoms Search for Systemic Root Causes

Successful leaders who grow their organization to the next level build strong executive teams to create an enduring organizational culture. I’ll be discussing this further in my February 15 webinar on Executive Team Building and Culture Development.