by Michael Holland    

Luckily for most maturing leaders, there aren’t cameras rolling and a national audience of 16 million people watching as they make critical mistakes.  The NFL “replacement referees” have been trained in their craft but have been working as referees in less intense, less demanding levels than the NFL.   It would seem that these replacements would be fine but as this now infamous picture reveals from the last play of September 24, 2012 Monday Night Football Game, performing well at a higher level demands a lot.

Maturing leaders gain ground every month as they experience more situations testing out their skills.  Ideally these leaders are building wisdom that can be brought to bear in future situations.  Unfortunately, organizations aren’t usually patient enough to allow these maturing leaders to ripen or season well over time; the leaders are thrown into larger and more complex roles way too early.

There are many employees at all levels who see so much wrong with these bosses and their behaviors and lack of leadership capability.  What’s so interesting is to listen to group of mid-level managers who see all that is wrong with the senior leaders while having no clue or insight to how unhappy and disgruntled their own employees are with their bosses.

We could place all leaders on Reality TV so the audience could see, decipher, criticize leaders’ behaviors and leverage online voting to filter out those who stink from those who perform well.   Or we could create an apprentice program that helps leaders to build upon their craft with support and guidance and corrective action as necessary.  Or we could just continue to throw untrained, half-effective leaders into much larger and more complex roles hoping for the best outcomes because we’re sure they will just figure it out along the way.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • The NFL Replacement Refs have now been demoted as the real referees come back on the scene. When was the last time you heard of a less-than-effective leader in your organization being demoted and their pay adjusted to reflect their position change?
  • Does your organization or team offer adequate training for those promoted to a new role? Or are they left with shoes that are too big to fill?