How to support those new to leadership roles

In the past month, I’ve come across at least five situations where emerging or first-time leaders are coming unstuck in their people leadership role. Usually, I hear this from their boss (or even their boss’s boss). Sometimes, it’s when it reaches HR.

But the theme of the problem – and the cause – is almost always the same. Those emerging or first-time leaders are not performing or making rookie mistakes, largely because they’ve been thrust into positions of leadership without the support, knowledge and tools they need to succeed. It’s often a case of “sink or swim”. Or expecting that emerging or first time leader to “pick it up as they go along”.

Pretty soon, unsurprisingly, there’s a whole lot of teeth gnashing going on – not only for their bosses, but also for those they’re leading, and perhaps most importantly, for the new leaders themselves.

This trap is common. And it’s a mistake.

Sure, you might have promoted that person because they were the best scientist, an ace lawyer or the best widget maker in your business. They’ve been a top performer and promoting them into a people leadership role is a natural promotion and progression. But their competence in their original role doesn’t mean that they’re automatically going to be the best people leader straight off the bat. In fact, those skills and traits that made them a star individual contributor can be different – and sometimes even diametrically opposed – to those required of a great people leader.

It’s not fair to put people into roles of leadership without giving them a hand up and teaching them how to do it – and do it well.

Organisations can and should do better when it comes to supporting and training their emerging leaders on how to lead well. Here’s a staggering fact: 44 percent of emerging leaders feel unprepared for their role. And 87 percent wish they’d had more training beforehand.

If your organisation is grappling with knowing exactly what the best way is to invest in leadership training for this key group that is both cost-effective – and actually effective, I have a solution for you.

It’s The Leader’s Map.

What is The Leader’s Map?

The Leader’s Map is research-backed blended leadership programme. It provides up-and-coming leaders with the skills they need to lead most effectively in this new era. Because it’s blended, it has two components – combining the flexibility of remote online learning on key leadership topics, complemented with the power of scheduled group learning and peer coaching (which can be done in person or virtually). That way, leaders and organisations tap in to the power of a blended learning approach.

The Leader’s Map develops and expands the leadership capacity of emerging and mid-level leaders, equipping them with the cornerstone leadership skills to ensure their success as a people manager.

Who is The Leader’s Map for?

The Leader’s Map is designed for:

  • People who are currently in their first leadership or line management role
  • Aspiring managers or individuals who are deemed to be ‘ready now’ in terms of promotion into their first people leadership role. This leadership programme equips these individuals with the necessary skills before they are thrust into these roles of responsibility
  • Managers who have already ‘cut their teeth’ in leadership, but who will benefit from developing their leadership skills further. This may include managers who have had little leadership development to date – or those who have recently joined your organisation in a mid-level management position
  • People leaders who have been identified as not performing in their roles from a leadership perspective or who are struggling with some aspect of their people leadership – and would benefit from a ‘refresher’ or skills development in this area
  • People who do not have direct reports, but who are in positions of cross-functional leadership where they are required to lead and influence others without authority (e.g. key project management roles).

Who is The Leader’s Map not for?

Senior executives and those with considerable experience in people leadership (although you would be surprised how often I work with CEO and C-Suite executives who still don’t know some of the basics covered in the eight modules!)

How does it work?

The Leader’s Map has eight modules, each with lessons that participants work through at their own pace. Each module has downloadable PDF resources, video lessons and practical exercises where they apply the learnings on the job.

The participant is required to complete a number of exercises in each module before moving on to the next module. But their online learning is complemented with peer coaching and end-of-module group coaching sessions, where the participants in your organisation benefit from coming together to share and embed the learnings from the module.  This gives leaders time to apply their learnings in real time – and share their experiences and insights with their peers in the programme. 

The course is designed to run over a period of 9-12 months.

Side bar: I’m super excited because we’ve just invested more in re-launching The Leader’s Map (I call it The Leader’s Map 2.0) with even more benefits and improvements for you and your leaders.  The new site includes:

  • Improved participant experience – the new site is laid out with better design, look and feel, so that it is easier for participants to consume and progress. It gives them a better user experience.
  • Increased motivation to progress and gamification to encourage participants’ progress.
  • The lessons in each module are broken down into mini lessons and short, digestible chunks. This is best practice in online learning.
  • A discussion board for all participants to upload conversations and questions on a module. This also emphasises the peer coaching and collaborative nature of The Leader’s Map programme

To check out more about The Leader’s Map, click this link and get in touch to see how you can better equip your emerging leaders for success.

1 Comment

  1. Redd Davis on January 8, 2021 at 3:54 am

    Great tips for those getting thrown into the leadership role for the first time. It can be very stressful and adjusting to a new role out of your element can be a struggle. Great post!

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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