In my role as a leadership coach I have the great privilege of working with many extremely talented executives. Executives who are regarded by their organisations as being strong candidates for stepping-up into future senior leadership roles. While this is a great position to be in, it’s also only half the journey these managers will need to undertake. The other half will demand that each of them makes an internal transition. The transition from manager, to leader. And while this is easy to say, it’s far more difficult to do, especially in the context of internal promotions.
Internal promotions bring their own unique set of challenges which every candidate needs to successfully manage. The the biggest amongst them is the career S-curve and the importance of strategically starting your leadership step-up curve well in advance of interview day.
Many managers regrettable overlook this critical step. And when talking with Heads of HR about their leadership pipeline, I invariably hear some version of the manager-to-leader transition story and the challenges it presents, with comments ranging from… “they [interview candidates] showed up just like they would for their current role” or “they brought no vision or new thinking to the executive leadership team” or “they just didn’t demonstrate the Grade 1 mindset that’s needed for this senior role”.
Overlooking or underestimating the career S-Curve is indeed a challenge because transitions:
- Take timeand making the transition from manger to leader is no exception.
- Require a shift in mindset which will be unique to each person.
- Can feel disorientating and uncomfortable, so having a guide is incredibly helpful.
- Require the learning and practice of new skills for you to become both competent and confident in. In the case of the manager-to-leader transition these skills include:
- Sense-making and strategic-thinking.
- Inventing and leading change.
- Relating and persuading strategic stakeholder groups.
These leadership skills require real-world practice and cannot be switched on overnight.
For example if you have never before created and sold a divisional/organisational vision to others, attempting to do this for the first-time in a high-stakes interview is incredibly difficult and ill-advised. I’ve worked with seasoned executives who found themselves in exactly this scenario whereby they had to learn and apply these skills in real-time against a looming deadline. Some were successful, but it required trojan work on their behalf. Others, didn’t quite make it in the short timespan available to them coupled with the competing work/family pressures they had to manage.
Irrespective of the outcome my wish in both instances was that each would have started their leadership step-up curve months in advance of interview week.
To address this transitional challenge I wanted to design a programme that would:
- Provide managers with an evidence based leadership model that is built on behaviours which can be developed – eg visioning, strategic-thinking, innovating and relating. I found the MIT 4 Cap+ leadership model which is also the model of choice used in The Harvard Handbook for Teaching Leadership as the perfect fit to meet this need. In a world of ever increasing leadership models and theories, the 4 Cap+ model provides a strong and tested compass.
- Educate managers on how:
- the rules of the game change when they are being assessed on their potential to step into a bigger leadership role.
- a different set of skills come into play – notably those of visioning, strategic-thinking and selling their ideas to diverse stakeholder groups.
- strong operational skills on their own will not be enough to differentiate them as an future leaders within their organisations.
- proactively managing their career S-curve is the critical foundation for their future success.
- Teach participants how to:
- Sell a meaningful vision that inspires and communicates their strategic acumen.
- Proactively bring their strategic point of view to the executive table.
- Harness their team’s creativity for leading and delivering on the change promised.
- Influence and persuade their key stakeholder groups to back their initiatives.
- Work on real work challenges with between sessions practice and application of learnings over a six-month learning journey from start to finish, ring-fencing the developmental time required for embedding transitional growth.
- Coach participants on how to:
- Lead with their strengths,
- Cultivate the right conditions for growing their mindset.
- Create a six month personal action plan for progressing their goals.
This resulted in the creation of our Creative Leadership Programme – a programme that supports managers step-up into senior leadership roles and shift to leading with a strategic mindset.
It’s my wish that this programme will enable:
- those talented executives would missed out on previous promotions to be better prepared next time around.
- those who are aspiring to step into bigger leadership roles for the first time, to do so with their eyes wide open.
- organisational HR and talent teams to build strong leadership pipelines.
As with all our coaching programmes, this programme is also tailored to your organisation’s strategic context, culture and leadership advancement framework and is suitable for both cohort groups or individual managers.
To learn more about the programme you can do so here.
Wishing you well,
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