How to support the transition of expert managers to full leadership potential – part 3?
In the first article we identified the need to look at leadership development through three dimensions.
Dimension 1: Clarify the Leadership Attributes
Dimension 2: The Organisational Lens
Dimension 3: The Individual Lens
In the second article we looked at leadership development through the organisational lens exploring the need to:
- Analyse – where are we now
- Define – where do we need to get to
- Develop – interventions to get us there
In this third of 3 articles we will explore how to support the individual in their transition to ensure they reach peak performance in the shortest possible time.
Remember the stats from article 1?
53% of senior leaders expect new leaders to be performing with-in 6 months of their appointment and yet over 50% of high potential moves are perceived to end in failure and only 16% of leaders fully transition without additional support.
From this information it is fair to suggest that whatever is happening to support transitions currently its not generally meeting the needs of organisation or expectations of senior leaders.
Our research suggests that the support for transitions needs to start sooner and be more focused.
Dimension 3: Looking through the individual lens.
The third dimension is working with individuals over the long term to provide the right interventions at the right time and maximise the potential of successful transitioning.
Whilst there are occasions when leadership development is focused on people before they move into leadership roles, such as talent programs, the majority of development opportunities are for people who are, arguably, already in roles requiring leadership not just management. To really support an organisational shift in leadership potential there are 3 phases to pay attention to.
The is the time period before someone moves into a leadership role.
This isn’t about hierarchical position as there is a growing recognition that organisations need to have ‘leaders’ distributed throughout the entire system.
Orientation is a period of time to help individuals understand what is required of them as leaders in your organisation. Providing clarity on what leadership means, the challenges they will need to overcome in developing leadership potential, the need to explore their own strengths and weaknesses and preparedness to really look at themselves and maybe change.
It is about the right messages delivered in the right way to engage and provide clarity.
The temptation is to either deliver a series of workshop style interventions OR provide a communications platform to inform people of what is expected. It is this “either/or” thought trap that creates the difficulty many organisations experience.
Orienting people involves providing the ongoing communications as well as the opportunities to explore what this might mean for them; explore their own motivations and drives and therefore be more conscious of what is likely to be required of them in a leadership role. In this way they will be better equipped to make a good decision about whether being in a leadership role is something they are really ready for.
It needs a balance of a great communcations platform coupled with opportunities for each individual to explore what leadership is, what it means for them and what part they want to play. In this way they will start the transition into fulfilling leadership potential in their current role rather than waiting for some form of appointment and then struggling to adapt to their new reality in a timeframe required by the wider system.
This is typically the first 90 days, or more for some people. Earlier in this article is was suggested that 53% of leaders expect new leader to be performing within six months of their appointment and therefore this on-boarding period is crucial in giving each individual the best opportunity to hit the ground running so to speak.
On-boarding firstly consists of being given great clarity about what is expected of them in their new role. This isn’t just a role profile, which tends to articulate what is needed to fulfill the day-to-day (or management) aspects of their role but a greater degree of clarity about what is expected of them specifically as a leader in this new role.
Our experience suggests that this clarity of leadership requirement is often missing meaning people focus on delivery on their day job, as this is what they are measured and maybe bonussed on, at the expense of delivering on the often unspoken leadership aspects of their role.
Clarity involves clear short term goals with appropriate support interventions to help each individual adjust. This requires greater input from their line managers, access to effective mentors, visibility of role models and maybe access to individual coaching.
This is the period after the first 90 days. This is the time when people are getting on with their roles and hopefully reaching a high level of performance.
This is also the time where we tend to forget that learning is a lifelong skill.
Early successes might lead to complacency in role, a reduction in receiving (or asking) for ongoing feedback, an assumption that what we are now doing is good enough and we can simply learn on the job to reach peak performance.
In order to continue the transition and really hit peak performance each individual needs a long-term action plan. This isn’t just an annual appraisal with new objectives.
It is an action plan that is live and focused on continued development as a leader. It needs to include clear long-term goals requiring collaborative effort to make positive differences to challenges, ongoing mentoring and coaching to ensure not only have people abilities and aptitude been developed but people attitudes are congruent to the organisations long term needs.