Recent research by Gallup shows that companies fail to hire the right person for a managerial position 82% of the time. That’s scary.

“People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” This is what people say, and what we’ve seen in our years of experience. So if people are leaving managers, how disastrous is it that companies are not hiring managers who can successfully manage?

Managers matter because they are the immediate point of contact for employees. They can either increase or decrease employee engagement, and employee engagement is what it’s all about. Gallup has discovered links between employee engagement and company performance in areas such as productivity, higher profitability, and lower turnover, to name a few.

The challenge is, companies (and managers within companies) promote people because they’re great individual contributors. Or because “it’s time” and “they’ve earned it.” Unfortunately, neither of these reasons is a good predictor of how someone will be able to effectively manage – to effectively get the best out of their team members and direct reports.

Gallup research has shown that great managers have the following talents, amongst others:

  • They motivate employees and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision
  • They are assertive enough to drive outcomes
  • They create a culture of accountability
  • They build strong relationships

Not every managerial candidate has these talents. Maybe you or I don’t have the right talents. Maybe your current manager definitely doesn’t have these talents.

So what do we do about this? Well, the good news is that many would-be managers possess at least some of the necessary traits and talents, and can develop others if their company invests in them with coaching and developmental plans. That can be a call to action to those of us who currently manage (or hope to manage). We can find ways to increase our own understanding of and ability in these talent areas.

And we can lessen the expectation that “the next step up on your career ladder is a managerial role.” There are people who would rather continue to be individual contributors and subject matter experts. And there are people who should continue to be individual contributors and subject matter experts. Stepping into management when it’s something you don’t want to do, or don’t do well, is a challenge – and in many ways, an unfair and most likely destined to not succeed (or not succeed at the highest level) endeavor.

Maybe it’s time to question who should manage and who should not. And maybe it’s time to find the best ways to make sure that the people we move into management have what it takes to get the best out of the people they manage.

How have you learned to be a better manager?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in find the best managers, and the best ways to manage, contact Lisa at

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