It was never planned, it just happened. After years of enjoying what you do, and consequently doing quite well, your efforts and results have been recognised by management. They asked you to lead a small group and coach up a few other staff to work with you and ‘learn from master’.
While work was still quite enjoyable and some people blossomed under you, others didn’t. You were also unaware that your personal output was starting to suffer.
More time passed and continued good performance, along with adequate to good results from your team, as well as possibly length of service, put you in line for more responsibility and a larger team.
Now with five or more people reporting to you, you are having trouble getting to work you were so good at years ago, let alone excelling at it. A greater proportion of your team are not performing as well as you felt you did. Management seem a little disinterested in your specific work and are talking more about your teams output being not quite what they expected from such a high performer as yourself.
You have become an Accidental Leader. Your excellence in your field has resulted in you moving into people leadership, about which you have little if any training, without you even realising it.
This is an all too common scenario. The Peter Principle is about being promoted one step beyond your abilities due to your adequate performance at previous level. This issue is more about being given a job in another profession. Medium size business is faltering at middle management levels where great “doers” are being forced to try and reproduce their output in others, without any of basic skills needed to do that.
There is no logical reason why someone who is a great developer, graphic designer, fireman or mechanic would have skills required to replicate same results from a team of people. Maybe they might be great technical coaches, passing on experience of work to a number of other like skilled people, but leading a team is a very different challenge.
At most basic level, unless every team member is a “mini me” of leader, what drove them to success of their job, is not going to work for most of team.
This is where I have found myself.
How many of you out there feel same?
The first step for us is to realise we are not inadequate and doomed for failure, and that there are many, many of us. Leading a team to produce what we so enjoyed doing personally, can be infinitely more rewarding if we appreciate that we are still producing same output, but more of it and better crafted because we have a wider range of skills doing it. Think of it as a different way of creating same result, but better. We simply have to learn how.