The Good News For Supervisors: Leadership Can Be Learned

John Trombley
The Village Business Institute

Consider this all-too-common scenario: Let’s say you are a newly-minted supervisor in an organization that, like so many others, selects people for promotion to management based on their technical skills. In other words, you’re a great widget-maker so the company decided to put you in charge of widget-making.

Two weeks into the new job, you begin to realize that your biggest concerns aren’t so much about producing widgets, but more about the people who do the production. A month into the new job, the shine has faded and you are wondering what you got yourself into. People problems are all around you; you are beginning to lose sleep and Maalox Max™ is your new best friend. At home, your spouse is concerned because “You don’t seem like yourself anymore, Honey,” and your kids are wondering who is living in the daddy or mommy suit.

When faced with these red flags, many of us will determine to “try harder, work longer, and …” well, I think you get the idea. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got!” Something in the equation has to change before you flame out.Consider a new strategy: If you are in a supervisory situation and feeling lost, yet you believe you are still on track with your life mission, figure out ways to prepare yourself for your management duties. Rather than beating your head against the wall harder, longer, or more frequently as some will do, choose to get the coaching, mentoring and education necessary to be successful as a leader. It’s not enough to be “a nice guy.” Leadership requires a whole different skill-set from that of being a master widget-maker. The good news is that leadership skills can be learned.

As part of your strategy, be honest and communicate with your supervisor; let him or her know the type of support you need to be successful. This is where most people begin to fail. Pride and ego keeps them in bondage. Fear of loss prevents them from admitting their need for help. In the end, the Peter Principle is manifested and everyone loses.

I will leave you with this: If you are traveling down a road and realize you are lost, the wise person turns around and goes back to where they knew where they were, and from that point chooses a new direction, or at least stops and asks for directions…and then follows them.

About the blogger:
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Institute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

With over 16 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.

For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or