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Are you ready for a top management job?

A few years ago I was asked to groom John Noble (not his real name) for a top management position. John was in his early 40s and had been very successful in different sales roles. John exceeded his goals every year, and as a result, he often received nice bonuses. He was a man with a lot of self-confidence who knew how and when to turn on the charm. He liked to celebrate his success…two expensive cars, a beautiful villa, a heated pool in his back yard…you get the idea.

During our first meeting he told me about his career. He shared with me a series of highlights. Actually, it came down to the fact that he never had any major setbacks so far.

As part of his program, I asked if it was ok for him if I also listened to the experiences of his boss and a few colleagues? To hear from them, anonymously, how they experienced their collaboration with John?

The results of the interviews were about the same. Everyone agreed: John is a top talent. We must retain this man for our company. Of course, his not-so-effective behaviors were also shared in my conversations: regular outbursts if he did not get his way; not listening; and his desire to win. In this case, really always wanting to win. To the extent that the people reporting to John didn’t feel empowered.

John’s 360

In our follow-up conversation I discussed with John how his colleagues looked at him. Obviously anonymous, but it was a direct message. And this was a crucial moment in the program. Did the message come across? For this, I made a one-page summary for John. At first he was shocked. For someone who is always successful, it can be uncomfortable news if someone says that it can be even better. But in our next  sessions I began to notice that he had listened carefully. And gradually he was more and more open to look in the mirror. He saw the benefit for himself and for his colleagues.


Because or despite?

It is so incredibly important for all of us to understand that we are often successful in our work despite the way in which we sometimes behave, rather than because of it! That is the big mistake we easily make. We think: I am successful because I am acting like that. We have become so addicted to our old behavior. The behavior that brought us our success in the first place!

But for the next level we often have to do something else. If we look in the mirror, adjust our behavior where needed, then we give ourselves the best chance to become even more successful. Moreover, the higher you get in an organization, the more important your behavior becomes. And that’s the well-understood self-interest in practice.

And John? He was ready for his next step.

Hopefully this inspires.


Would you like to continue to talk to us about the program that John participated in? contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Find more information about his program here.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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