David Lewis, Programme Director for Executive Education at London Business School, has an interesting post on their web site titled, “The three stages of leadership.” Here’s the teaser copy.
“Your leadership journey is unique to you, but there are three distinct stages almost every leader will go through on their way to the top. The best ones make moving through the levels look easy. But it isn’t.”
No, it isn’t easy and no amount of hoping or planning can make it so. But you can make it more effective. Start by thinking about how we select the individual contributors we promote.
Leadership development and the move from individual contributor to boss
Lewis thinks that “It’s a complete gamble promoting someone from the first stage to the second stage.” I think he’s right for most companies I’ve seen, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, if you simply take your top individual contributors and promote them, then it’s a crapshoot. So, why not try something different?
Leadership development and psychological assessment
Assessment tools can help you identify people who are more likely to succeed when they’re responsible for the performance of a group. Use them. They cost a lot less than the cost of a bad promotion.
Leadership development and trying out the role
Give folks who have the aptitude and interest in promotion the opportunity to try out the role. You will both benefit. People who think they want to move up in responsibility will have an opportunity to determine if they like the work. You will have the opportunity to see how they do.
Leadership development and basic questions
When you observe a potential leader in action, ask some simple questions
Do people follow them?
Do they make decisions?
Do they confront others about performance or behavior issues?
Do they enjoy helping other people succeed?
The leadership development magic is in the mix. Use assessments. Give interested people the opportunity to try out the leadership role. Ask basic questions about how they act.