No matter how good you are, it takes time to really mature and be great. There is real value in getting thrown into the fire and learning on the job. But there is also real value in being brought along slowly and learning what you know and don’t know.
For every Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck there is a David Carr and a Mark Sanchez — guys who were probably rushed too soon. Steve McNair and Aaron Rodgers had the luxury of watching and learning under more experienced players for several years and are very successful as a result. In the end there is no right or wrong approach, but I believe that all good things take time to grow and mature.
I was recently invited to tour one of the most impressive sales operations I have ever seen. Great systems, amazing culture, incredible scale and success, and a strong history of promoting the best reps into managers. The strategy has worked exceptionally well for them, but when growth is exponential there are times when reps may get promoted too soon.
I met this 23-year-old superstar sales rep who had just been promoted into a job managing 10 of her (older) peers — 9 months into the job and a year out of college. That’s a lot of responsibility in a short amount of time, so it will be interesting to see if that rep is truly ready and prepared to manage, motivate and lead a team of people.
I think I saw a bit of myself in that rep as I definitely pushed the limits on my capabilities and experience early in my career. Looking back, although it all worked out, I know how truly unprepared I was for the leap I took when I started my first company. It was a necessary step in my journey, but I can say confidently that the years of successes and failures running my first company made me a significantly better leader now.
Is it better to leap and take a risk or plod along at a steady pace? I think the answer probably varies with each individual. We all learn and grow at different paces, and while some people expand when stretched, others snap if stretched too quickly or too far. Whether we get there with a leap or at a steady pace, I believe that all good things take time to grow and mature.
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