Long ago, I was working with a company when one of the managers told me that the CEO was running the company to Sell not to grow. I didn’t understand it at the time but six months later the company sold.
When you’re positioning a company to sell, what happens externally to it are very important and how it looks. You aren’t thinking about growth in regards to – we need to hire two more people to keep managing demand – instead its about, lets see what we can do with what we have and keep the cash on hand. Of course there are a number of other things that happen here (applying for awards and the like) but you get the idea.
You can also, Lead to Sell, in which case you are leading/managing the team not for the team, but for yourself, you the leader are not going to be hanging around and you need the team to look good. You need to show progress you’ve made in a number of areas and initiatives, you need to make projects look good and you need to keep costs down. In short, you are prepping for launch, but not with your team, with something else.
The mentality in this is completely backward, all those objectives that you are working on to make it look good, are at the cost of your team and hence they are making your team stressed, frustrated and worried and as a result, likely to leave, leaving you with nothing but your goals and aspirations.
If you want to leave your team in good stead, focus on your team first, not yourself. Everything else that will come for it are much better than any paint or optics that you will put on the team.
What managers fail to see in this regard is that the hard work of growing their team is exactly the work that will help propel them in their career. But it’s hard so it’s not as easy as buying a new coffee machine so they forgo it.
You can’t Lead to Sell, you can Lead to Grow.