Supporting and developing new leaders before they are provided with their first leadership opportunity seems obvious, but is not always the case.
The importance of providing a base for leadership in any organisation starts with the new, first-time manager who is given a fresh opportunity to add to the success of the business. To be ‘set up for success’ through a documented, planned and robust development process is the most likely way that a new leader is going to establish the most solid platform to succeed. Leadership is difficult. The many iterations of personalities, style, beliefs, biases and other factors make working with people a complex and sometimes difficult role. Leading and motivating people via formal or informal leadership roles makes this even more difficult.
Too many companies set first-time managers up for failure by not giving them the training and support they need to succeed. That, plus the tendency in tough economic times to see training as a “soft cut” is bad news for the quality of corporate leadership. (1)
A succession plan of worth is one step to meeting this need. As mentioned, the need for identification of candidates and related leadership development before the role becomes available is important. Formal training, one-to-one coaching and development, a supportive culture, leadership role-models, reinforcement of learning and a degree of tailoring for each individual leader are key elements in achieving a successful leadership development program. However, the fact that a program exists does not guarantee success. How the program is embedded and applied within the organisational hierarchy and structure will greatly influence the outcomes.
Novice team leaders, supervisors and managers chosen for promotion on the basis of seniority or technical competence…receive “woefully inadequate” support to prepare them for their new role. (1)
The first blog I ever wrote was called Falling Into Leadership as this issue has been around for some years.
An individual taking on a leadership role is often something that has ‘just happened’. Being a genuine leader does not come from the role and title designated to you but rather from your decision-making, inclusiveness, delegation skills, ability to communicate and other, well-recognised and documented traits. Many of these traits can be learned and enhanced through proper coaching and development…There is no doubt that the most effective and respected leaders in any role or organisation are those who recognise that they are not in their role because they have all the answers. Rather they are successful because they understand their own strengths and limitations, possessing the emotional intelligence to surround themselves with a team who have various strengths and skillsets that contribute to the synergy and effectiveness of the team.
Is it time to look at your existing structure and program? Do you have a program of development of leaders that seeks to encourage the next group of leaders within your organisation or reinforce the skills and capability of your existing leadership group?
Unfortunately, the answer is most commonly no. Acknowledging the importance and benefits of effective leadership, consider what you may want to do differently to ensure this is not the case in 12 months. All the best with your review and actions!
(1) Why First Time Managers Fail: BRW, May 30 2013