Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
I want to start by thanking you for the great welcome my first article on this blog got and all the comments many of you made both privately and publically. This just reinforces that the ideas I mentioned are not just my own vision of things and helps to confirm that we all have a mission to change the Spanish panorama of SMEs with quality executives and leadership.
Another reason that reinforces that we have “hit the nail on the head” is that all of you who gave your feedback are people that have experienced pseudoleaders. So they are not an urban legend that no one has seen after all and they do really exist. It’s no use thinking that they are just from the older generations, and those that have replaced them are “cut from the same cloth.”
Curiously, none of these pseudoleaders have written to me publically or privately to say “Hello, my name is X. I’m a pseudoleader and I want to change. How do I do that?” So I ask myself, where is that self-criticism?
An accidental leader could be any of you; a committed person with a restlessness, who collaborates and has always worked hard thinking that some day their chance to lead a project due to their own merits would come.
Normally, accidental leaders find themselves with their boss’s job overnight because the company had thought that it could save expenses that way and that they would accept the position without questioning why or how and would limit themselves to doing what they are told.
It is communicated to them with no mincing of words. “Hello, we have decided to make a change in Sales Management and after assessing several options, we think you are the person for the job. We have good reports from your boss, you’ve been with us for a while and you know the company. So do the visits you have planned and in 15 days’ time we’ll meet here to talk about how we are going to work.”
You get excited and you follow your work plan and visits. At night in the hotel, you work on a detailed business plan in line with what the company needs and the market demands.
When the day arrives, the message you receive is “We hope this changes quickly and you limit yourself to doing what we tell you, don’t forget that you’re here because of us” or “What you need to do is sell, stop giving excuses and sell. Your previous boss spent all day getting data on the competition and saying that we had to change things and analyze prices, but what you need to do is sell. We’re here to think, so less PowerPoint and more selling.”
You’ll leave the meeting completely demotivated but you tell yourself that gradually changes and improvements will be made. The months go by and things stay the same, they didn’t want a leader and you realize that you haven’t worked or endeavoured so long to do that.
You try to give your team training and the response is “Training is an expense, less training and more selling”. You start to notice that they don’t include you in the decisions and when the time comes, you ask yourself the question do you really want to continue or not?
You know your potential, you know your areas for improvement and you want to work on them. What’s more, you have ideas to drive and help the company.
I’ve discovered I’m an accidental leader. What do I do?
If after reading this you can identify with this, don’t lose hope. Don’t worry, there is a path to solve it. You have several options and, although there is no good or bad one, I’ll give you a few. But remember, the right one will be the one you decide to take.
Option 1: Accept it and resign yourself to the fact. If that role is enough for you and you are only looking for a title on your business card, it’s as respectable a decision as any other. Many people spend their lives doing something they don’t like and passing the hours, waiting for their day to end. If you are one of them, you still have time to change it some day. If you don’t want to, good luck in your job. I don’t envy you.
Option 2: You’re restless and you can see that this is not the future you envisaged.
- To start, don’t lose hope.
- Be positive, maybe you will manage to make them change the way of doing things.
- Seek allies that can help to change things for better step by step.
- Relish those small successes, from a new customer to a sales rep that you have trained. Give yourself those moments of self-motivation.
- Don’t stop learningand build up your network of contacts in case an opportunity arises.
- While you are with the project, always give your 110% so they can never say you “didn’t do it” and if the results don’t come, you can be sure that you gave your all.
- Trust yourself and your values.
- You have talent, success requires training .
- Never rush into making a decision that affects your future. As the song goes “you’ll never walk alone”. “When you walk through a storm. Hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky”
In the next article with which I will close this trilogy, I’ll talk about new leaders: Leader-Coaches, the seed of the Sustainable Leader.
Like always, I’ve written about my own opinion of things, but I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to comment!
Eduardo Sanz (@esanzm) is entrepreneur, coach and founder of Directivos en Acción.