Front view of human head shattering animation

New managers are not ready to lead, and the transition path is to blame.

New managers are not ready to lead, and the transition path is to blame.

85% of first-time or new managers receive no training in management, and the number is even higher for those who receive no training in leadership.
But before we go further, we need to establish a quick distinction between what management and leadership is.

Leadership has to do with the psychodynamic arena of leading people.
Management is the function or descriptor of the technical skills required to manage multiple facets of an operational nature.

Management is not a position or title. It is a function of leading others. Every manager is firstly a leader of others, and complimentary to this and interwoven into it are the facets of management processes that serve to guide how you technically do what you do.

Being good at your technical job does not automatically qualify you to lead others. Yes, it is one part of the equation and an important one. You have to know your stuff to lead others in that area.

Way too many people who step into a role that requires leadership firstly have no concrete concept of what leadership is. To boot, they have no training in leadership. They are only armed with a vague concept or opinion of it. A speculative viewpoint derived from hurriedly reading through some materials in an attempt to make sense of what the heck they just stepped into.

This is normal after the euphoria of promotion and its perceived perks has worn off. Suddenly, the all too naked reality of the challenges the human dynamic throws your way is staring you squarely in the face. And, it is at that moment you realise you have no base foundation or reference model for dealing with it.

And as we think about this, we should begin to see the irony.

People spend years studying, being coached and mentored, and honing their technical skills. It follows a robust approach of establishing the fundamentals, evaluating and then progressively building the advanced capabilities on top of this foundation. As a result, you become very good at what you do.

Overnight (through promotion or incidence) you find yourself in a new demanding role, in arguably the most volatile arena you will find yourself. And this occurs with no training, no coaching, no experience – and not even a guiding roadmap, playbook or blueprint to ground you in what you are embarking on. All you are left with are the examples of those around you – be that good or bad – but how would you know in the absence of a proven model?

So here is the question. Why suddenly does a proven approach in one area of your career – progressive training and experience in your technical skills – suddenly get ignored or thrown out the window when it comes to taking on the complex responsibility of leading people.

I think I need to give this more perspective, so let’s draw a parallel with aviation. Imagine that for years you have been around aircraft and maintaining them. You were trained, coached, and certified, and through this, you have become very good at what you do.

Then overnight you are thrust into the pilots’ seat and required to fly the plane with 300 passengers on board.

Sure you have observed others fly, read a few articles on flying, and even sat in the cockpit on a few flights – but you have never piloted a plane, and now you must fly it with 300 people. Don’t forget the crew on board, the air traffic controllers, and the ground crews. They are all in the mix too.

It seems ridiculous that we would subscribe to something like the example. Yet every day, this is what happens. And now we wonder why so many managers and those they are responsible for, crash and burn.

New managers are promoted into roles that consist of 90% leadership abilities to effectively do their jobs. Yet, they are lacking in the most basic understanding of the fundamentals needed to take on this role. They are, therefore set up to perform poorly or fail.

Vocational or technical skills are one thing. Dealing with the complexity of the human dynamics arena and leading others is a whole other ball game. You cannot take on this level of responsibility without being equipped to do so. Just like the 300 passengers on that plane, as a leader, you are responsible for them all. This is the role you have taken on.

But there is more to this leadership progression story. Management training (if you have received it) is not leadership training. Most leadership training programs are nothing more than management fundamentals packaged and labelled as leadership. They are devoid of the leadership (psychodynamics) basics.

Some include leadership tenets – which is good advice and habits – but they lack the fundamental grounding. They are therefore used out of context and become either ineffective or destructive.

Management training is essential as it forms part of the leaders’ toolkit. However, management is not the toolkit and not even the most important tool in the toolbox.

Leadership is the overarching aspect of the management role, and it requires knowing the fundamentals of the psychodynamics of leading other people.

The downside to a lack of leadership equipping.

Research reveals more than 80% of new managers under perform, or fail to impress during their first two years in the role. The added downside is that these managers are shaped by these experiences in the first year, and this influences their leadership styles throughout their careers.

The knock-on effect is that as the role-model for the next generation of managers/leaders, they are passing on a flawed DNA. A flawed model that leads to an ongoing approach of authority-based managing, coercing, and aggressive tactics used by those in management positions – because this is all they know, or pursue out of desperation.

As this continues, there is no room for leadership to take place, and the potential talent within the people working for the manager goes wasted. (75% of people leave their jobs because of their managers)

Currently, poor leadership is costing organisations and business through;
Lack of internal and external alignment
Loss of key staff
Disengaged workforce
Low efficiencies
Loss of customers as a result

More than 70% of managers surveyed are stressed, and the same percentage of managers do not enjoy their jobs. 90% of your function as a manager is to lead. If you do not know what that is or what the fundamentals are, then this should not be a surprise.

With the right approach and through equipping managers to be leaders and developing a broader leadership culture in the business, you can spend more of your teams time and energy on leveraging opportunities. Here are the benefits;

  • An aligned organisation that reduces internal and external conflicts of interest
    Reap the rewards of high levels of efficiencies
    Retaining key staff and the core knowledge and experience that is crucial to the business
    The advantage of an actively engaged workforce
    Motivated and less stressed managers who are more engaged and therefore effective
    Retention of customer that are crucial to the profitability and sustainability of the company.

Organisations with a leadership culture are 80% more likely to obtain and hold a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Client: Berkley

Category: Leadership

Date: March 2020