#278 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 5
Uncertain for You?
I am president of
an old, and still successful company. My business, like many, has been undergoing dramatic changes
these past few years. Unfortunately,
about half of my senior managers, who had been doing a wonderful
job in the “good old days,” are not up to dealing with the
current situation. They
cannot make key decisions and have problems prioritizing.
They seem bewildered much of the time.
are not slacking off. Most
have enrolled in leadership and management seminars and courses;
but they still are unable to adapt.
So now I’m in the process of “demoting” them.
It’s not easy, as we’ve gotten pretty close over the
years. I know that they are going to be demoralized, and I know that
their families, who I am very familiar with, are going to be
upset. But I’ve got
a responsibility—to the company—that overrides dedication to
I also see
several mid-level managers, eager to take on senior positions, who
probably will be more comfortable, in their new roles, than the
managers they’ll be replacing.
The way I see it
is that today’s normal
environment for my type of business includes these fast-coming and
difficult challenges: unexpected competition, demand for rapid
decisions and greater uncertainty about future strategies.
That’s quite different than the rather predictable
environment we’ve enjoyed for decades previously.
Some people can
lead during rapid change, while others can’t. Of the latter, it seems that this deficiency is ingrained in
their personalities and cannot be easily learned, no matter how
many seminars or courses they take over a period of a year or two.
My hope was that
training would turn them around.
But the promise of training has just dragged out the
I’m writing this Forum to assuage my feelings of guilt for not
being able to help the perplexed senior managers.
therefore, is that all managers should prepare themselves for
surviving a fast-paced environment.
Preparation should begin early, long before they find
themselves being swallowed up by the whirlpool.
The other message is that when you interview people
applying for managerial positions, get a feeling for their ability
to deal with high pressure and uncertainty—even if the position
isn’t that high pressure now.