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Recently, a company president asked for coaching on how to manage a VP who is effective in creating results, but whose leadership style often wears down his reports until they become detached or quit. Here’s our exchange:



President: What should I do about “James?” I love his results—he’s bright, successful and always hits the mark. But, his teams are constantly in a state of turnover.


Coach: What you’re talking about is very common state that I refer to as the “success trap”—a leader who is celebrated for the success that they create, but whose style leads people to feel they are disposable commodities in service to that success. 


Ask yourself (and James), “how willing is he to change the way that he creates success?”


Often, these successful leaders are resistant to changing the ways they lead—after all, they are the bringers of success (what) without concern for the methods of success (how).


These individuals often consider empathy, listening, consideration and collaboration as “soft skills.” 


I encourage you to coach your leader to redefine “soft skills” as “people skills.” The reason this reframe is important is that—in many business circles—"soft skills" is code for "optional, nonessential, limited-value-to-the-bottom-line skills"


But, the truth is that businesses rise or fall (or are limited) primarily through their ability to relate and collaborate with people--inside (teams) and outside (customers). Companies put out a call for employees (and customers), and people show up--with all their complexities. 


Your work with James is to coach him to understand that real leadership recognizes that teams’ complexities are the secret sauce to creating sustainable success—and it is essential not to blunt those differences so that everyone thinks/acts like the "leader,"—but instead  to "optimize people to be better." It's not either success OR people—it's BOTH. That's leadership alchemy, and that marks an essential difference between a (true) leader and a task-manager. 


As president, your goal is sustainable success. James’ goal may be immediate success. Aligning your goals (and methods) is essential


Even though running roughshod can work in the short term, over time that approach burns out both inside and outside people—because without people (and people-relating skills), sustained success is impossible. 


Ultimately, James can either realize the importance of AND, not OR and change his approach over time, or—for the sake of your sustainable success goal—you may find that you will need to replace him.



If this leadership concern rings true for you, contact me today to schedule a complimentary, confidential discussion. 


For more than two decades, heads of state, CEOs and Executive Leaders around the world have sought me out to serve as their trusted advisor. Let’s discuss how best to co-design a different, more effective way of leading that yields greater results and legacy, with increased fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace of mind. 


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