Taking on a new leadership role is a potential “expectation vs reality” story for every new leader. New leaders often find, to their disappointment, that after having worked hard to get where they are, it’s not as wonderful a world as they expected.
“Startlingly, 40 percent of newly promoted leaders fail in new roles within 18 months. This takes a tremendous toll on human talent as well as business results,” the Association of Talent Development says in Seven Enemies of Success for Newly Promoted Leaders
Entrepreneur, in Research Shows That Your First-Time Managers Aren't Ready to Lead. Now, What?, reports that “A 2016 survey of 500 managers from micro-learning platform Grovo found that 44 percent felt unprepared for their role. Additionally, 87 percent wished they'd had more training before becoming a manager.”
This hurdle faced by new leaders is a considerable setback, especially in a fast-paced, highly competitive business environment.
Emerging Leaders face common leadership challenges as they transition to New Managers
New leaders face pressure to build credibility. Every little success or failure they make in this crucial first stage makes a big mark on their reputation.
They are transitioning from familiar to unfamiliar: from individual contributor to team leader. In doing so, they struggle with learning to delegate and empower others. They are used to doing the work themselves, and do not yet clearly see that they cannot succeed alone. They need to delegate, collaborate, and lead the work, rather than do it.
“The most common mistake I see newly-promoted leaders make is sticking with what they know how to do.” HBR Ascend says in Handbook for the Newly Promoted Manager. “‘They put me in this job because I’m good at doing X,’ the logic goes, ‘so I will be successful by doing more X.'”
New Managers, or newly promoted leaders, also need to manage different stakeholders and interests, motivate and engage the team. Communication and people management skills are key to succeeding in this role. These skills that take time to build are not naturally found in the newly promoted. Unless they have been coached in advance for the role.
Emerging Leaders need to build relational skills to address these gaps.
Relational Leadership for Emerging Leaders: A Leadership Development Track
We launched the Relational Leadership for Emerging Leaders track in February 2019, to address the specific challenges these high potential staff face when they are newly promoted.
The track aims to develop the relatability and credibility of these would-be people managers and groom them to be credible influencers and relational leaders.
To develop relational skills, the track takes the form of a learning journey with experiential programmes and executive coaching.
A year after the launch, we are excited to share feedback from participants on how the course helped emerging leaders and their organisations.
What Our Participants Say
Caught and Not Taught: Experiential Programme Component
“I appreciate ROHEI’s engagement with us in terms of the activities that you prepared, because you bring these topics to life, by helping us to get into a space to really appreciate not just by head-knowledge.”
“So I think overall, you have theoretical knowledge, to practising in activity-based learning, and eventually having an opportunity to try it out, and to get feedback and interaction with the coaches in ROHEI – that really benefited us in growing us as leaders moving forward in our firm.”
Executive Coaching: A venue to guide practice and workplace application, and a safe place for timely and personalised feedback
“The coaching sessions were really good… you get to talk specifically about yourself and your situation. My team, the challenges I’m facing and then how we then take our learnings here and apply it back in my personal setting.”
“I think having you guys around, and trainers, to journey with us, building up that relationship like a friend, helps us to at least have someone we can confide in.”
The Results: A Summary
Gaining Self Awareness
There is a strong positive correlation between self-awareness of leaders, their authentic behaviours and, consequently, their leadership effectiveness. - THE STRAITS TIMES
The ideal starting point of the journey is self-awareness, and the Relational Leadership programme has prompted emerging leaders toward healthy introspection. “So the thing I like (about this programme) is that it allows me to know about myself," a participant shared. "This programme taught me what my work style is and how I can work with others.”
Another participant said, “So I've come to know myself more. Knowing how to be honest with myself, being truthful in understanding my skill sets, my capacity, what I can do.”
Listening with Empathy and Building a Safe Environment
Emerging leaders are given a chance to address issues and conflicts. Learning to listen with empathy allows them to learn how to reach agreements and get results.
One of the participants relayed: “I think what I’ve learnt most so far in the course is actually listening to others and communicating with others with more of an empathy element in it. Nowadays, because I’ve put more thought to our discussions, I am able to understand from their angle better and of course, reach mutual agreement faster, where we can either work more efficiently or get things done quicker.”
“Today when I get into tough situations with clients or dealing with issues I pause and understand, and seek out the best way of doing it," another participant shared. "As a leader in my section, I practise what was taught.”
“So at work, I deal with a lot of seniors,” one participant shared. “So I really need to prove myself, that I can do that scope of work. So I prove that by listening and also telling them why we need to do all these things.”
“This course made me more confident in dealing with people – the emotional aspect… I have benefitted here because they have entrusted me to lead another section,” said one participant.
A senior leader shared an appreciation for the changes exhibited by the participants: “They are more engaging. Some of them have taken on leadership roles like team leaders, section managers. I’ve seen them, they are showing up their leadership skill quite well.”
Impacting Business Outcomes and Organisational Culture
Ripple effects on the business outcomes and organisational culture have been felt. One of the participants’ direct reports shared: “They have been contributing well to a very productive environment, a very sustainable environment. A culture that relates to people well, we see progress in this area that results in good business performance outcomes.”