A: According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager survey of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, only 18 percent of managers have a “high degree” of talent for managing employees. You’ve named one reason. Companies often promote people into leadership positions because of their technical strengths and not their leadership savvy.
When technical strength is the sole basis for promotion, newly promoted leaders often feel insecure, knowing they’re ill-equipped to handle employees. They have, however, the managerial title and the power to shut down employees. Some even consider the ability to exercise this power to be one of the unadvertised perks their managerial promotion secured for them.
Further, technical leaders often believe solving technical challenges to be their highest-value work. In contrast, they consider managing and motivating their employees to be of low value — and something that should come easily. When it doesn’t and employees “give them lip,” their frustration builds and they can take it out on their employees, particularly those who hold up a critical mirror that points out their deficiencies.