Makarios Consulting Blog

Don’t Tie Your Superstar’s Hands

What you’re about to read really happened. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

A global organization had a superstar as their head of marketing. She had created a powerhouse team of marketers, set clearly-defined goals and objectives, and was executing flawlessly. The team was putting out reams of thought leadership papers and getting great traction on social media. Qualified leads were pouring in.

That’s when the incredible happened. The head of marketing was told by her boss, “Stop marketing; there are too many leads for the sales team to follow up on.”

Yes, you read that right. STOP marketing. STOP generating leads.

When I (Tim) heard this, I could not believe it. Think about it: putting a halt to marketing means fewer leads. Fewer leads means decreased sales. Decreased sales means less revenue. Less revenue means unhappy investors. Unhappy investors … well, you get the picture.

I can’t help thinking, why not hire more salespeople and get more sales and more revenue??

The story brings up a very important point: don’t tie your superstar’s hands. When superstars feel frustrated or thwarted, they leave and go elsewhere – and take their outstanding motivation, expertise, and results with them. The ramifications to your business can be significant; even crippling. As a leader, you have the responsibility to help your superstars deliver to their fullest potential.

While the company in the above example was not a Makarios client, it does demonstrate three things that effectively tie a superstars’ hands:

Shifting strategy, goals, or objectives. Superstars love to deliver. In fact, they love to exceed performance expectations. Changing the rules of the game – in this case, “stop marketing” – completely derails a superstar.

Solution: Clearly define your strategy, goals, and objectives and stick to them so that your superstar can keep his or her forward momentum going. If you need to do a “course correction” for a good business reason, be sure to explain the change and the reason clearly to your superstar so that he or she can stay engaged and motivated – and productive.

Organizational dysfunction. When roles or responsibilities are not clear, superstars cannot get their footing. In the above example, the sales team was not being held accountable to deliver on the pipeline, effectively undercutting the efforts of the marketing team.

Solution: Clarify roles and responsibilities so that your superstars knows what is expected of them and how they will be supported in their role.

Lack of positive recognition. For all intents and purposes, the head of marketing was blamed for the sales team’s failure to deliver, instead of being praised for creating a robust pipeline. Nothing could be more deflating than that!

Solution: Celebrate your superstar’s performance!

 Consider the superstars in your company: are they able to deliver to their highest potential, or have their hands been tied?