The Transition to Leadership Trap

A7874EI think most of you would have heard or said something along these lines before.

“I can’t stand Bill as my Manager! I have no idea how he got the job! Sure, he’s been a great data analyst for years but he just doesn’t know how to lead people. Our team is suffering for it.”

“Michelle was a fantastic leader! We loved coming to work and always exceeded our targets. Since Michelle quit and Penny stepped up into the managers role things have really gone down hill.”

If you’re nodding in agreement chances are you’ve experienced someone being promoted into a leadership position without the appropriate leadership potential and capability.  The impact of someone transitioning to a leadership role without the required capability will have an immediate impact on a team’s productivity and engagement at work. People get jaded very quickly if they see someone being promoted beyond their level of capability (there’s even a saying about this, the “Peter Principle”).

If the new leader’s capability isn’t quickly developed or a decision made to move them to a more appropriate role, the long term negative impact on team culture, employee retention and ultimately the success of the business will be huge.

Just because someone is successful in a skilled role doesn’t mean they’ll automatically succeed in a leadership role. For example an architect may be very technically skilled in design concepts, but are they skilled at the work of leadership? Do they even know what the work of a leader is?

The work of a leader requires new skills to be learned such as assigning tasks, monitoring and reviewing work, coaching, mentoring and confronting behaviour to name a few.  Before an organisation throws someone in the deep end of a leadership role they need ensure they are competent to do the work when they start in the role. It’s not fair to ask someone to be accountable for a whole team’s performance when they haven’t been supported to develop or even practiced the new set of skills needed for the job. It’s not fair on the people they are leading either.

The good news is, it’s possible for people to develop into great leaders over time through an understanding of:

  • leadership potential
  • current capability
  • capability required for a leadership role
  • what work is needed to develop capability to be successful in that role

Our own Transition to Leadership program can help individuals and groups do this. Have you considered the cost to your business if it falls into the Transition to Leadership trap?