Do You Have Managers Who Aren’t Management Material?

If there is one person who knows a thing or two about managing a successful business, it’s Jim Collins.

His book, Good to Great, is a must-read for everyone in a leadership position. Even if you haven’t read the book, you have probably heard of this often-quoted passage:

You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.

Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.

In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

In my work with hundreds of agencies, I often find that they have the right people in the wrong seats.

It is unfortunately common practice for employers to promote employees to management or leadership positions because of their work ethic or seniority. As time passes, it becomes evident that many of these employees do not have the necessary relational skills, intellectual horsepower or emotional intelligence to be successful in their roles.

Highly effective managers exhibit the same seven habits that Stephen Covey discussed in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Some of these habits can be trained, but others such as empathetic listening and problem solving are more inherent.

But what do you do if you already have people in the wrong seats?

I encourage executive leaders to take the approach former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, termed Extreme Ownership.

Willink and Babin say good leaders take ownership of everything that happens in their business. They accept all blame. They own all problems and solutions. They commit to leading up and down the chain of command.

Agency owners should evaluate their teams and consider those who may be in the wrong seat. This will require humility to admit that you made a mistake when putting an employee in the wrong position. Then, have the courage to make a change.

Promoting people into positions for which they are not well suited only sets them and their teams up for failure.

Consider this quote from Good to Great: Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”

Are there people in your company that you need to move to a different seat? Send me an email or message on LinkedIn or Twitter if you need advice on how to handle the situation.


One of the services I offer is management consulting and evaluating organizational infrastructure. I re-evaluate the structure, or lack thereof, of an agency, including how it is organized into teams, each team member’s responsibilities and who manages them. If you need help in this area, I would love to chat with you.


At KF Strategies, we are the experts in agency operations. We help our clients prioritize their people, because we know when you serve your people well, followed by process then product, agencies perform at their highest level. Our clients are able to produce their best creative work, while achieving maximum profits and streamlined efficiency. We do this through leadership coaching, team development, training and project management software consulting.

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Kimberley@kf-strategies.com