A top performer from your team has just been promoted to team manager, and each and every day you watch them struggle in their new role. Sound familiar?
They struggle because the job of leading a team differs immensely from their previous job. This holds true even if their new team operates in a similar way to their past experiences. Leading requires a different set of skills and practices which the individual is invariably not prepared or trained for.
Unfortunately, what happens next is that your past top performer who used to be engaged and motivated in their work loses confidence, feels unsupported and all that positive stuff you could once draw upon goes straight out of the door with them.
Developing your future leaders needs a little thought and process. Firstly, it is key to recognise that the skill set is incredibly different. As part of a team, you are working together and are interdependent upon each other. A team will have been picked to ensure it works together well as an entire entity. This team then goes on to leverage the best talents of each individual which, in turn, brings out their optimal performance. This is due partly to the dependence and meshing of skills, but it is also down to the skilful leadership of their team manager.
Getting your potential leaders ready for leadership before they make the jump builds behaviours, skills, confidence and allows them time to put these in practice. A common practice is to ensure that high performers are offered a short-term leadership role, say for a small, individual project. This practice is even more beneficial if you can provide the new leader with mentoring and guidance throughout the project.
The ability to think quickly and make fast decisions, explore new ways of doing things, and develop emotional resilience is enhanced in stages throughout this process, starting off with small steps supported by higher levels of mentoring. It is a process which if repeated and extended will ultimately lead to a confident and able leader.
As part of your leadership development programme, you may want to consider recognising and rewarding your potential leaders – those who make a difference with both qualitative and quantitative results, the hard skills and the soft skills. One way of doing this is to offer a highly targeted individual learning programme such as ‘Succeed as a team leader’ by renowned training experts Ei World. This programme is aimed at new leaders and offers one-on-one support from a qualified and experienced coach, who will thematically review, interpret and provide feedback on a team leader’s overall effectiveness. The programme offers concrete and actionable suggestions for improving team dynamics, optimising the team leader’s coaching style and assisting them to enhance their executive presence.
Very few leaders are truly excellent straight out of the starting gate, meaning it is critical to give a leader both the time to grow into their new role and the tools that will enable them to excel.