Confessions Of A Shitty Leader by@michael.thompson1978

Confessions Of A Shitty Leader

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Michael Thompson

Communication Lead

Growing up with a speech impediment I was constantly in awe of confident leaders, and as a result, I spent the first half of my career trying to become one. In order to get over my fear of talking, I threw myself into sales, and within a year I had reached my goal, and I was promoted to the management team.

I was 24, and my confidence was at an all-time high.

However, as my responsibilities grew, so did a harsh reality — no matter how hard I tried, I was not cut out to be a strong leader. In fact, like the title implies, I was a pretty shitty one, and below are the 6 reasons why.

1. I stopped doing the very things that led to being promoted:

My first year in sales I gobbled up every business book I could get my hands on, buddied up with top performers, and spent at a minimum, 15% of my salary, on coaching and seminars.

In short, I invested in myself — and I won.

However, as soon as I was promoted, I stopped reading, I stopped reaching out to new people to get exposure to new ideas, and I stopped seeking out coaching and learning opportunities outside of the office.

In short, I stopped investing in myself — and I lost.

I was not promoted because I was the fastest, strongest or the smartest. I was promoted because the CEO saw in me someone who wanted to get faster, stronger and smarter. But instead of doubling down on my personal and professional development as my responsibilities grew, I thought I was already good enough, and for this, I paid.

2. I did not “sit and think” nearly enough:

You know the manager type that is always running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to put out every fire, no matter how small the flame? That was me, quick with an extinguisher, but slow when it came time to actually determine the cause, or analyze if it was worth putting out in the first place.

I felt important being busy. However, by not taking the time to simply “sit and think” about what needed to be done, and the best way to go about it, I missed getting busy with the few things that were really important.

3. I treated people as numbers and not human beings:

On my first day on the job my manager shook my hand and said the following words, “Man, are we glad to have you here,” followed by, “I know you are not used to sales. Would it help if we set you up in the corner so you can fail your way forward?

As a kid fresh out of college this meant the world to me. He not only made me feel welcome, he put himself in my shoes, and as a result, I worked my butt off for him.

However, as my days in management wore on, the less I took the time to do this for others. I prioritized team numbers over the individuals that made up the team, ultimately not reaching either.

4. I did the very things my boss used to do that I hated:

My second boss spent more time talking to me when he was outside of the office, than he did when he was in the office. Whether he was out for a long lunch, a day meeting, or a week vacation, he would call, “just to check-in” on things — something he rarely did when in the office.

I swore I would never be that guy, but instead of trusting perfectly capable people to do their job, as a manager, I turned exactly into that guy. “Just checking-in to see if the deal closed.” “Just wanted to know if the appraisal was completed.” “Just checking-in to see if there are any problems I can help with.”

You want to lose trust?

Play the “Just checking-in game.”

5. I made my problems the team problems:

I used to think my job was important, but in reality, it was very simple. Make sure my team members were on the phone. That was it. When they were on the phone, they were making deals. When they were on the phone, they were fixing deals. When they were on the phone, they were closing deals.

But what did I do instead? I complained about anything and everything that came with being a manager to my team members, detracting them from their phone time while simultaneously bringing down their morale.

I preached, “Be on time, be positive, and be present,” but looking back on it, my negativity was a big reason why they didn’t listen. After all I did not walk the talk.

Speaking of not owning up to my own short-comings..…

6. I played the blame game:

Nothing was my fault. Ever. I was quick to defend myself, and even quicker to deflect the blame onto something else, or worse, someone else. I was hired to do a job, and when that job was not done, instead of accepting the blame and opening myself up to solutions from people who stood in my shoes before, I closed my ears and pointed my finger.

The job of a leader is to praise the team when things go right, and accept the blame when things don’t, and in that respect, like the other five points above, I failed.

Looking back at my days in corporate management, many of the mistakes I made I simply chalked up to inexperience. I thought I was young and ill-prepared. However, once I stepped away from the job, and finally stepped back to understand what really went wrong, the real reason became clear — I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.

I was not suffering from “imposter syndrome.”

I was suffering from being an imposter.

And I will always be grateful to that company for opening my eyes to the fact that I was not made to be a leader, because it has helped me to become the supporter I was always made to be.

Stay Curious.

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

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