Leadership development: The Most Important Transition

July 3, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development programs often ignore the most critical transition in a leader’s career. When a person gets “promoted” from individual contributor to manager, too many companies treat it like just another day at the office.

Oh, sure, we may provide a little training (sometimes). Maybe there will be a heart-to-heart talk with the new leader about the responsibilities of his or her new role. Mostly, we leave it up to the new manager to work things out on their own. That may be why we have so many awful bosses.

Leadership development dangers in the critical transition

When an individual contributor gets promoted to a leadership position, more things change than just the title. They don’t change gradually, either. They change suddenly.

The new leader must learn what it means to lead. Suddenly, it’s his or her job to set direction for the team. Suddenly, he or she is responsible for getting work done through the team. Suddenly, the job is all about people and not much about tasks.

When the new leader was an individual contributor, he or she probably had several friends at work. You could ask for help and advice. No more. Suddenly the new manager has to reevaluate those relationships. Suddenly the new leader must find new sources of advice and support.

The new leader is going to develop new attitudes and habits over the next year and a half or so. If the leader and the company are fortunate, they will be positive attitudes and good habits. But without serious support and learning during the transition, it’s a crapshoot.

Leadership development opportunities in the critical transition

Effective leadership development support during the critical transition can increase the possibility that the new leader develops into a great one. There are two huge opportunities.

With good support, a new leader is more likely to learn how to do leadership well. He or she can form good habits for a lifetime.

The critical transition is also the time to help the new leader master one key set of habits. There’s so much learning to be done that this is the ideal time to help the new leader learn how to learn from experience.

It should be a no-brainer. High intensity leadership development during the critical transition can mean more and better leaders for the company for decades to come. It can also mean more leaders who love their work and do it superbly.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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