BLUF: New supervisor, my direct is High C, excellent expertise and personable, but has a great deal of trouble putting herself in a leadership role. The staff are upset and complaining about never getting a timely answer. She is terrified of making decisions, although I support her decision-making abilities completely. She moved up through the ranks and her directs used to be her peers. Jealous? Yes.

She is located in another office. How do I give her feedback if I don't spend time interacting with her along with her directs? If she is struggling with this should I spend time coaching her along with her directs, or is that just too weird? I am trying to give her time to learn the role, but I fear that she is coming to a point where her directs are losing patience and her credibility is suffering. We all do the MT trinity, but the one on ones are difficult with her staff as well because she is so introverted. I really want her to succeed.

Thanks all


RickMeasham's picture

G'day 430JAN,

This sounds like the Peter Principle: She's been promoted to her level of incompetence. That might sound harsh, but that's how I read your description. She might be an expert and be personable, but if she is too introverted to lead O3s and is unable to make decisions then she's going to really have to work hard to be effective.

  • Has she listened to the High-C Downfall cast?
  • Does she understand that a major part of the role of a leader/manager is to make the decision when a decision needs to be made?

If her former peers are jealous of the promotion, then she needs to work doubly hard to be the boss. At some level they're hoping she fails.

As to your actual question: It's not at all weird to be coaching her. Just don't coach her directs. Don't turn skips into O3s. Don't be their boss -- you'll undermine her role. Make sure you don't feed her direct's complaints -- the answer to any complaint needs to be "I fully support her in her new role". Of course, you can take whatever they said as feedback to sanitise and pass along, just don't encourage complaining or you breed negativity.

Rick Measham

P.S. In the spirit of us all trying to find places to improve .. BLUF means putting the context at the top and the narrative afterwards. That way when I read "Can I coach a direct in another office?" at the top of your post, I can read the following narrative with that context in mind. The other way 'round means I had to re-read your first paragraph in order to consider the questions.

Read my blog: Geek Herding - Explorations in the art of leading IT professionals

TomW's picture
Training Badge

IT sounds like the problem here is coaching your direct on providing one-on-ones. "Introverted" is a characterization that can be overcome. She needs to learn how to facilitate a discussion, drawing things out her directs to talk to her more. In some respects, her tendency to say less will help here, since High D's and I's tend to talk over everyone else.

430jan's picture

Rich, thank you for your confirmation of the way to go here. And you are entirely correct about the poor editing of my post. Thank you for that feedback.

Tom, thank you your encouragement. I will pursue both of your suggestions. A bit of despair is creeping is a great cure.