Who’s Your Number 2?

Linda LaitalaAround The Table, Business, Career, Employees, Leadership, Management, Sales, WorkLeave a Comment

A couple of years ago a member came to a Raven roundtable with the following issue: “My Dad is dying from cancer, and I want to be with him. I don’t have anyone trained to run my company while I’m gone. What can I do?

As so often happens at meetings, the wheels started turning. Members learn and can relate to the issues brought up by others at the table. What if they were suddenly called away or worse? What would happen to their companies? The discussion was genuinely caring, and Gene received some good ideas that made it possible for him to step away to be with his father.

Regrettably, 50 to 80% of middle managers fail to meet the expectations of the people who promoted them.

Why? There’s an abundance of technical training for middle managers but much of it is focused on technical skills rather than people skills. Managing is about bringing out the best in people, not overwhelming subordinates with technical information. Training on people skills is usually focused but short. It’s hard to instill new habits with no practice and no follow-up.

In his book, “Looking out for Number 2”, Bruce Miles, Ed.D. describes a Number 2 person as someone “you rely on when you cannot or do not have the personal resources to attend to all parts of the business on your own.” Miles says Number 2’s are able to:

Think like an owner:

  • Understand, promote, and help deliver the organizational vision
  • Manage outcomes identified as essential within the strategic plan
  • Help employees persist, succeed, and thrive
  • Learn new skills
  • Deal with role ambiguity

Do you have a number 2 person you would be confident about leaving totally in charge if you had to suddenly step away?

If you don’t have a number 2 person, what’s your contingency plan?


The road is easier together,


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