The Manager’s Concern


The Manager’s Concern

Is it in the right place?

A solid manager I coach recently shared a challenge he has right now.

Him: “I was just given our number for the year.”

Me: “And?”

Him: “It’s big. It’s really big.”

Me: “Ok. How do you feel about that?”

Him: “I’ve got concerns, man.”

Me: “Do you feel you’ll hit it?”

Him: “We’ll hit it. I know that. No doubts. It’s a big goal, but we’ll get there.”

Me: “So what’s the problem?”


The Value of Good People

Before I continue with our conversation, let me say this:

If you have more than 1 person in your company, you want this guy in it. He does the work. He cares about the work. He cares more about the people. He realizes that holding them accountable is being kind. He pushes them. Constantly asks, “How can I improve?” He’s eager to learn. Goes the extra mile. Sharp. Busts his tail. Can sell. Can manage.

He doesn’t seek the easy out.

Doesn’t blame the management.

He carries the message and leads them to hit the number, no questions asked.

That’s not the issue.


Management: Focused on Numbers…

Back to our conversation.

Him: “Look, man, every week I report to the company how we’re doing. And there will be so many weeks we’re not hitting our goal.”

Me: “So?”

Him: “I mean, what does it say to others when there are so many weeks I’m not hitting the number?”

And there. We. Have. It.

A rising leader in a growing organization has a goal, a plan, and the conviction he has to hit it.

But his misses will be incredibly public, and probably 48 times per year.


The Leader’s Requirement: Conviction


In 2006, Tony Dungy was leading the Indianapolis Colts as their head coach. He was known for his defensive acumen, having architected great defenses at Tampa Bay with Monte Kiffin, and having coordinated defenses for the Vikings and Steelers prior to that.

At Indy, the team was led by Peyton Manning’s and Tom Moore’s offense, and the defense continued to show poorly in Dungy’s first several years at the helm.

In ‘06, the defense was having another lackluster year, especially late in the season. Significantly, Bob Sanders, the team’s strong safety and defensive “eraser” played only 4 full games.

Thanks, at

Dungy kept repeating, “We’re fine, and we’ve got this taken care of.” Despite giving up too many points if this team was going to compete for a Super Bowl.

In the playoffs, Sanders came back. The Colts allowed only 14 points in their first two playoff games before winning a shootout over the Patriots in the AFC title game.

Dungy had conviction about his plan and his team. He didn’t panic, especially when the early returns weren’t there. He stayed calm and communicated that to his team via his press conferences, his demeanor, and his steady hand in making decisions.

And the Colts hoisted the Lombardi Trophy that year.


Reporting for Sales

“But sales are different! The results compound! It’s not like a sports season where the games’ points don’t roll over.”

You’re right. But you’d also be missing the point.

The manager I’m talking to knows that outsized returns – crushing a goal by 50 or 100 or 300% – in a given period don’t always show when looking at another period where they missed the mark.

He also knows not everything is linear. And that he’s staffing up. And that wins often come in bunches, and are dependent on really big deals.

He knows this. But not everyone else does.

And he’s a rising star at this company. How will he be perceived if he’s constantly missing the current period, even if he’s heading toward the goal overall?


Decision-Making: Short-term and Long-term

(but not LTCM)

There’s a great set of scenes in Michael Lewis’ The Big Short. Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, and he knows the mortgage industry is a house of cards.

He bets everything on it.

And his investors panic because, in the short term, he’s not right. They pull their money.

But he stays the course. And shows a nice return to those who stayed with him.

It took incredible conviction and faith to do so when he was heckled, people were ostensibly getting rich around him, and he had nothing to show.


From Manager to Leader

The manager I’ve worked with is wrestling with how he’s perceived.

And you know what? It’s making him a leader.

Because the manager is focused ostensibly on numbers and metrics and OKRs or KPIs or whatever we’re doing these days.

His real concern is leading people to the goal. And that’s where he becomes a leader.

He’s learning to hold onto his convictions, to march ahead when it appears he’s failing, to rally the team and keep them focused and believing.

His backbone is becoming steel. His confidence is quieter but more potent.

Because it’s not about the weekly report at all. It’s about what he knows is happening when others can’t see it, or when they forget what he did last week, month, or quarter. It’s about the consistent work needed to create the hockey stick or the 10-year overnight success.

That’s his concern.

What’s yours?


We have forums for leaders, especially those leading sales teams, to meet monthly for education, community, accountability, and growth. Email me to learn more.



Adam Boyd