Management Transition

In this episode, Sam Shriver, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at The Center for Leadership Studies, talks with George Morrow about management transitions.

Episode Transcript


Welcome to The Center for Leadership Studies podcast, an exploration of contemporary leadership issues with experts from a variety of fields and leadership backgrounds. In this episode, Sam Shriver, chief sales and Marketing Officer at The Center for Leadership Studies, talks with George Morrow about management transitions.

Sam Shriver

Let’s talk about the transition that inevitably happens between individual contributors who now become managers for the first time. What distinguishes those first-line supervisors who really make it from the first-line supervisors who struggle or simply don’t?

George Morrow

The first time I became a manager of people probably the biggest jump I had in my career. And I was a market research analyst. And then, the next day, I was the manager of a group of seven or eight market research analysts. Having been one of their peers a day before and without any real training on how my behavior needed to change. I kind of modeled myself off the previous guy. It wasn’t a very good model necessarily, so I didn’t know whether to help certain people when they were struggling, just tell people what I wanted them to do, or just delegate and sit back and edit. So, I really didn’t have a good model. Situational Leadership® is the thing that gave me the skills at that point in my career to say, you know what? It depends.

If that person is immature on a certain task, I need to get in there, roll my sleeves up, and help them out. If a person’s an expert in another area, just give them the resources and the encouragement and thank them. Give them praise when things get done and a range of behaviors in between. I think a mistake that a lot of people make is you get promoted, and goes to your head, and then you start becoming the mini Attila the Hun. I’m going to direct these people. I’m going to show them who’s boss. And you kind of forget where you were not that long ago. And so I think you need a very flexible approach. On the other hand, there are a lot of people that get promoted, and they’re too timid.

They’re afraid to tell people what they need to hear, afraid to give feedback, candid feedback. So I think it’s that critical move from being a first-line report to being a manager, where I think the really good behaviors get ingrained, and that’s where I think the most coaching or the coaching will pay off the biggest.


As an executive vice president at Amgen, the world’s largest independent biotech company, George Morrow led global commercial operations, the division responsible for the commercial activities of approximately 3800 staff in over 50 countries. He also oversaw global government affairs, which manages Amgen’s policy and strategies with various government agencies. Before joining Amgen, George had 20 years of commercial pharmaceutical experience, with 10 years at Merck and 10 at Glaxo.

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