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Preparing Your Next Leader for Success

When company staff hear that they are being promoted to a leadership role, everyone is excited including the organization because it means they’re growing; the supervisor because they get to deliver good news; and of course, the employee.

But there are pitfalls in promoting staff to leadership roles that can be avoided if you are adequately prepared.

Here are a few:

  • The employee may not be prepared for a leadership role. They may have been outstanding technical/individual contributors, but they haven’t had any formal leadership training;

  • The supervisor has been focusing on whether the job requirements of the role have been met but have neglected to learn the employee’s career goals and provide development opportunities; and

  • The employee is focused on their pay increase, thinking about a new title and feeling like their hard work is finally paying off.

Sometimes, the real meaning of leadership gets lost in the translation. This results in a new leader who may not fully prepared for their new role that includes:

  • ensuring that your team is performing optimally and focused on the right stuff;

  • having difficult conversations;

  • managing conflicts;

  • setting clear goals and expectations;

  • communicating clearly and directly;

  • delivering difficult news;

  • addressing barriers to success;

  • providing development opportunities for their team;

  • decision making;

  • recognizing team success, and

  • coaching employees

To be successful, having leaders that are prepared is imperative for an organization to stay on course for success. Most of all, they must understand that leadership means much more than a pay increase. I recommend several activities that should be completed prior to awarding a leadership role.

First, have focused conversations with employees regarding their professional goals. They may be excellent as technical/individual contributors but may not be as well suited for a people leadership role.

Create methods for employees to obtain career growth which doesn’t always mean leading people. Career ladders are an excellent method to provide these types of opportunities.

Include professional development as a component of your performance management process. Provide opportunities for employees to gain leadership skills through training, project leadership, professional organization leadership, mentorships and volunteerism, to name a few.

And lastly, get them ready and then step back and let them be leaders.

If you need help designing a leadership development program or a career ladder, let’s talk.


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