Don’t Forget to Lead

I was having a coaching conversation today with a very sharp senior sales executive who is concerned about one of his team members; let’s call the guy Mike. So Senior Executive says “Mike is running scared. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He was a bad hire. We have a freeze right now so I can’t replace him but he’s not performing and he’s asking me for time. I have no idea why but it’s a waste of my time to spend a full hour on it.” Meanwhile, we have spent 15 minutes on it in our coaching conversation! There are two issues at work here that are important to highlight.

ONE, is that we need to watch where we spend our emotional and mental energy. If something is a problem at work, we should either focus on solutions to that problem, or focus elsewhere where there is something to expand and grow.

TWO, is that this leader was ignoring something very important – a resource was coming to him and looking for leadership and management, and he was being resentful! This was actually an opportunity to coach and develop someone who was asking for help.

I asked Senior Executive how much time he though he had spent in the past week stressing over Mike, the fact that he couldn’t fire Mike, the fact that Mike was under-performing, the fact that he was unhappy with not having the luxury of replacing Mike right now.  Senior Executive estimated three to four hours. I suggested that he look at the hour he had to spend with Mike and spend 30 minutes preparing for that hour in order to make it productive rather than a waste of time. We identified three areas that Mike needed to focus on, as well as some strategies for addressing his challenges in the field. After only five minutes Senior Executive looked up from his notes and said “If only I’d not wasted all that time thinking about what was wrong and spent all of that time working 1:1 with Mike, I think we could be on a different path by now.”

Ask yourself this question…are you so overloaded that you are forgetting to lead?  It’s easy to do! Here’s a tip: before you have any 1:1 meetings with those who report to you this month, take a moment to think about how you can lead and manage your people best. You’ll be glad you took that think time, and they’ll be appreciative of it.


About karlinsloan

Karlin Sloan has committed herself to finding out what makes great leaders tick, and to supporting leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. As a corporate citizen she is an advocate for triple-bottom-line reporting, for creating sustainable ways of working and living, and for creating positive organizational communities that work together for the greater good. She is the author of the acclaimed business book Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership which has been translated into Thai and Russian, UNFEAR: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, and co-author of the 2012 book Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work. For more information see or
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2 Responses to Don’t Forget to Lead

  1. karlinsloan says:

    thanks so much Nicey!

  2. Nicey Hilton says:

    LOVED this entry. Perfect timing for me and a few clients. . . such a great reminder of how easily we can get sucked into the toxic vortex-o-negativity and forget to lead. Keep it up Karlin, you’re an inspiration!

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