The Dirty Secret About Leadership Transitions

Every year, organizations spend thousands of dollars assessing their leaders for “potential” and promotability.  Identifying “high potentials” (aka “hi-pos”) and developing them into senior leaders not only helps with succession planning but has a direct impact on business performance.

When Leadership Transitions Go Wrong

A recent article cited a study that revealed that 40% of surveyed employees said that working under a first-time boss has been the source of “stress or anxiety about going to work,” as well as dwindling motivation—and it’s causing a third to reconsider working at their companies entirely.

It’s not surprising that rookie managers would struggle (and have a negative knock-on effect on their teams), however, it’s not a stretch to say that a failed transition doesn’t just stop at the new manager level. Whenever people climb the ladder, that old adage of “what got you here won’t get you there” kicks in.

Evolving Is Not Optional

Leaders need to keep evolving… not just skills but also behaviours. If you don’t then you’re on a quick path to personal atrophy and are probably walking around with some massive blind-spots that have the potential to derail you.

And here’s the tough part: There is no one combination of behaviours that work across all leadership transitions. Our partner, Management Research Group (MRG), has put out a new paper that shows that the distance between an effective leader at one level and an effective leader at the next level grows as leaders move up the organizational hierarchy. In short, the higher the rank, the bigger the stretch.

New Behaviours are Key

In fact, MRG’s research shows that being successful in the transition to senior leadership requires a shift in 13 (THIRTEEN!) leadership behaviours. That’s a big shift.

Senior Leaders Need to Increase:

  • ·  Persuasive
  • ·  Management Focus
  • ·  Production
  • ·  Dominant
  • ·  Delegation
  • ·  Conservative
  • ·  Innovative
  • ·  Self
  • ·  Excitement

Senior Leaders Need to Decrease:

  • ·  Deference to Authority
  • ·  Structuring
  • ·  Cooperation
  • ·  Tactical

Leadership is more than skills. It embodies the self-awareness and commitment required to change an existing way of being. Most of us are creatures of habit – and it when it comes to how we navigate career changes, those habits may not be working for us.

A new leader can bring new ideas to re-energize an organization and take it to new heights. When improperly managed, a leadership transition can also be extremely disruptive to an organization. In our experience, without coaching and accountability, there’s a good chance that a transition, even with an excellent candidate, can go sideways.

Our partner, MRG, used LEA360 assessments completed between 2013 and 2018, from 17,493 leaders from around the world and over 150,000 observers (bosses, peers and direct reports) to determine key behaviours needed at each leadership level, from rookie manager up to senior leader. The observer scores were combined and weighted by observer groups and Wilcoxon tests were conducted to compare the behaviours of highly effective leaders at adjacent levels.

How We Help

The LEA 360 is a uniquely powerful instrument for developing a nuanced understanding of an individual’s unique approach to leadership both from their own perspective and in the eyes of their colleagues. It measures 22 leadership behaviours and 30 leadership competencies. It is just one of the many tools we use with our clients.

We also leverage the highly tested CECI™ Goal Setting Process, wherein leaders learn a system to successfully navigate current and future leadership situations with ease. Through The Roundtable’s unique peer-to-peer group coaching and guided group mentoring programs, managers and teams will learn how to adapt their leadership approach to various situations.

If you’re curious about how The Roundtable can help your organization develop a culture where leaders can move beyond their own teams to support each other through coaching and mentoring, let’s start a conversation.

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