- May 19, 2014
- Posted by: STEP Consulting
- Category: Newsletter, Uncategorized
Over the next few issues of this newsletter, I’ll explore some of the common reasons causing leadership development programs to fail. And I’ll share what we can do about the issue.
Perhaps the first and most pernicious issues derailing leadership development is the false belief that “I don’t need leadership development; it’s why I got promoted in the first place.”
Okay, you may want to sit down for this. The truth is, you probably didn’t get promoted because of your outstanding leadership skills. You may have been the only person on your team who doesn’t bump into furniture. Or maybe you were with the team the longest. Or the shortest. Or maybe you just have good hair.
Seriously, people who get promoted into leadership positions aren’t always [read: usually aren’t] promoted because they’re good leaders. They typically get promoted because they’re the most technically capable, or the hardest working, or produce more high-quality stuff. And all three of those attributes can make you a lousy leader!
Marshall Goldsmith, who wrote the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, describes the irony in moving into a leadership role. The very things that made you successful as an individual contributor – your technical prowess, your heads-down get ‘er done attitude, and your fervent pursuit of excellence – now work against you as a leader.
Because you now have to get things done through others, YOUR technical prowess, attitude, and drive don’t matter nearly as much as YOUR TEAM’s. In fact, it’s likely that few – if any – of your employees can match your capabilities or passion for the work. Remember, THAT’S why YOU got promoted and they didn’t! If you’re like many new leaders, you may end up alienating your team out of frustration over what you perceive as their ineptness or lack of initiative; or you may simply end up doing the work yourself since no one can do it as well or as fast as you can.
Helping your TEAM engage, perform, and develop is what you’re all about now. Unfortunately, if you are like most first-time leaders, no one took you aside and showed you how to lead others. No one ever told you that your individual contributor skills – the skills who made you what you are today – are no longer valued; getting others on your team to excel is now what’s valued. You need leadership development.
If you’ve been around the leadership block for a while, learning to lead at the level above you presents a whole host of new challenges – both operational AND from a leadership perspective. As a senior director, you no longer have line of sight directly to the front line; you need to communicate through your staff. Skip level meetings – if you do them – need to be done with finesse. You need leadership development.
Advice for the person in charge of leadership development:
- Enlist a C-level leadership sponsor. Leadership should be viewed as a core organizational competency. It’s how we work around this organization and who we are. How we lead should be just as visible and transparent as how we treat customers, or our focus on quality. The sponsor’s role is to create and sustain an organizational passion around leadership and leadership development.
- Consider implementing a 360° survey. Most leaders don’t know the impact they have and how they might improve. A 360° survey can be the needed whack upside the head. If your organization isn’t ready for a true 360° survey (usually because you haven’t clarified leadership expectations), consider using the 360° survey as a self-assessment only. This approach will introduce the expectations the organization has of its leaders and prepare the leader for a future 360° survey in which his or her boss, peers, and employees will provide feedback.
- Start training at the top. When leaders see their bosses going through training, they’re MUCH more likely to see training as a valuable thing!
Read more valuable leadership and management-related articles in this month’s Unleash Your Leadership Potential newsletter…