When Your Start Performer Is Not a Star People Leader | Thrive Global

Talent Management

This week, a former colleague reached out to me for some career advice. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call her Sheila. Shelia is exceptionally talented, loves the company for which she works, and is considered by many to be a “go-to” person who gets things done. Given her strong track record as an individual contributor, she was recently presented with an opportunity to be promoted into a new role and lead what would be her first team. This is a big opportunity for her, but there is one catch: Sheila really enjoys being an individual contributor and has no desire to lead a team of direct reports. However, her friends, colleagues, and a few members of her family are telling her that she should accept the role; however, in her heart of hearts, Sheila strongly feels it is not right for her. Whether it is moving from an individual contributor to a team leader role, or from one role to the next, this is a common dilemma (a good one by the way because it provides opportunity) that many workers face. The dilemma is found when there is a misalignment between a) an opportunity that looks and sounds good on the surface and b) what one values and is passionate about relative to their work. And while I believe we should all stretch and be open to trying new things, it is important to stay true to who you are and what you value when making these decisions. Not every employee wants to lead people or step into a role at the next level. When speaking with Sheila, I was reminded of this article I read a few weeks back. I shared it with her and now I am sharing with you. From a talent management standpoint, it is a good reminder that we should help people find their giftedness, their passion, and help to place them in roles where these strengths can be leveraged to drive business performance, employee engagement, employee retention, and employee experience to name a few. By the way, Sheila decided to stay true to herself and respectfully declined the role.


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