Why Top Performers Fail at Transitioning to Leadership (& How to Help)

"Disappointment is the nurse of wisdom." - Boyle Roche

I've had my fair share of disappointment, some much worse than others. Thinking there is Moose Tracks ice cream only to be find a blank spot where it should be and an empty container in the trash: mild to medium level of disappointment, depends on the day. Thinking that my newly promoted salesperson to sales manager will kill it…then doesn’t. That’s big.

Big hopes = big disappointment.

It seems to make sense. We take the top performer, the one who has cracked the code, and promote them to leadership in that area. Take your greatness and teach everyone else so I can have 10 of you (that’s what we are usually thinking in our minds).

Often though, top performers struggle once they move into that leadership or manager role. And we are left scratching our heads at why it isn’t working out. Logically, it makes sense…how could this not work? 

What’s worse, when top performers do not do well in transitioning to leadership it breaks everyone's hearts. The former performer misses his glory days, the boss misses the talented performer having the confidence he once did, now he's struggling and she doesn't know why. Not only that, his team is affected and to top it all off...sales are terrible because the top performer isn't pulling those numbers in anymore either.

Wow...how on earth did this happen? What did we miss? There must be something...there is no way someone who naturally excelled all this time, would now be rendered ineffective in a leadership role.

And there is where the truth is. We are so convinced that the top performer will naturally continue being great that it blinds us to set them up for success in this transition. Because that's what it is folks, it's a transition. The top salesperson isn’t selling anymore. They are teaching others how to sell. Our mistake is we don't honor this transition.

The new leader has to come in with a beginner's mind, seeing their job and responsibilities through a new lens. Leadership, teaching, supporting is a completely different skillset than they used in their past successes. Since this is probably a very new feeling for them (they are used to feeling very dialed in to their job), they will need to be validated and assisted. You, as the leader, are the only one in the position to help this along. You are key to success here. 

In the video, we dive into:

  • before you do anything...make plans, offers...you MUST DO THIS 1ST!

  • key pieces in the mindset shift needed from performer to leader

  • how to understand the gap in leadership skills and how to bridge that

  • my personal favorite...the benefit of the benefit