Pragmatic advice for coaches, managers & leaders

Managers: Let it go …

This post is specifically for all those managers out there and those who coach them. If you’re neither of these, I still hope you find this interesting and might be generous enough to pass it on to managers and coaches you do know. I believe it might prove very valuable to them both (plus they’ll love you all the more too!).

Many middle managers that I work with admit to being “stuck”. The range of areas in which they get stuck and seek some help, covers a wide scope from career direction, to balancing life commitments to raising performance and beyond. Yet, an area that they seem rarely aware they are stuck with, is one of definition. And in part, that is the fault of the system.


Imagine you are an awesome IT specialist, or a hyper-efficient office manager, or a great results producing sales representative: what tends to happen as your star begins to brighten and your profile in your organisation starts to become recognised for your ongoing, great performance? Well, often the result is that you get given the opportunity to manage others, help develop their talents and thereby multiply the benefit for the organisation. You get promoted to a management position.

Everyone’s as winner, right?

Well, that, as you might expect, depends on your definition of winning.

You see, what tends to happen with such great folk, is that you often get stuck operating as the great IT specialist, sales representative or office manager. To an extent, the label that has accompanied your working life in recent years, remains with you, inhabiting your head and clicking on autopilot responses to problems that are no longer your main domain. Remaining too operational for everyone’s good is often one of the consequences.

This is understandable. Your success as a technical expert has not only been with you for some time, but also provides you with great confidence – you knew you were awesome in your own head and the promotion confirmed that. You may have liked the labels: talent/fast-track/outstanding. But now the work that defined you is no longer what you are doing everyday. Messing with a machine to get it working again; wrestling with a complex project management issue; speculating on a deal, all no longer make up the bulk of your day. Your technical expertise is no longer required in the same way. You need to re-define yourself before you remain stuck for too long, or indeed just get lost altogether.

Letting go

May I take this opportunity to remind you that it was your pen-stroke that signed on the dotted line to accept the management role, but the challenge that now faces is you is letting go from the very thing that got you to that place. The other challenge is the willingness to be re-defined as an awesome, hyper-efficient, results oriented … manager. And the challenge that goes with that includes not knowing fully what that would be like.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get back to great performance:

1. Take some time to reflect on letting go of your old label – they’re not that helpful or accurate anyway.

2. Accept that you have started a new journey that involves becoming the best manager you can be.

3. Find out what your organisation expects from great managers and work with a coach, mentor, friend or peer to construct a development plan to help get you there.

4. If there is no organisation model to work for – you’re bright enough to work it out for yourself, but also read, ask, engage someone to help you.

5. Enjoy being at the start of a new journey – achieving great managership.


If you would like support to improve your coaching skills, develop the coaching skills of managers/leaders in your organisation or receive executive coaching for great performance, please contact Glenn here or glenn(at)