3 Critical Areas Senior Leaders Overlook

I was only 25 years old. That seemed so young, but that’s how old I was when I was first promoted into a formal leadership role. Now, that was over two decades ago, so I definitely don’t remember, but I absolutely wouldn’t claim to know everything that was going on in the mind of my manager, my senior leader, when she promoted me. I’m not talking about why did she promote me. I’m talking about, what was she thinking as she worked with me through the transition from individual contributor into people leader?

And after all of this time of reflection, experience, and research, we can confidently say that there are three critical areas that senior leaders often overlook when they are promoting first-time people leaders. Number one, confidence. I do not mean you as the senior leader, your confidence in the person you’re promoting. I’m talking about the confidence in the person being promoted. What is their confidence level in their new role?

Only about 25% of new people, leaders feel confident in their ability to take on this new role.

On the other end of that, there is a percentage that are overly confident in their new role. They think, “Hey, I kicked ass over here as an individual contributor. Of course, I’m going to kick ass over here as a manager!” And we know that that is not necessarily the case. So you as the senior leader, check in on the confidence level. We don’t want either extreme. Let’s help find the way that they’ve got that solid confidence, appropriate confidence, for this time of transition.

The second thing that’s often overlooked is clarity. Again, as a senior leader, don’t make an assumption that your new manager is clear on the vision and expectations. Just because they’ve been maybe working with you for a long period of time, or they’ve been at your organization for 5, 10 years, don’t assume that they are crystal clear on the vision of the organization, the vision of the department or their team, or that they are clear on what your expectations are over the next 90 days, 6 months.

Is it complete autonomy, do they get to run with their new role? Or do you want to have side-by-side parallel transition with lots of collaboration? Make sure that you are providing that clarity, those parameters, for big vision and the day-to-day on their transition. The third mistake that we see is in regards to skills. Yes, did they have amazing skills as an individual contributor that got them promoted, and were they showing some tendencies for some natural leadership?

I am sure! That’s why they were promoted. But we can’t assume that they have the proper skills to now be a people leader. As an individual contributor, they needed to have more of a deep, hard-skill knowledge; the institutional knowledge that they needed for their day-to-day role, for their tasks. But now we’re asking them to broaden their soft skills, more of the leadership capability. Do not assume that they have these skills.

In fact, 60% of new leaders don’t receive any training – no leadership training.

We are setting them up for absolute failure by not providing that training. In fact, only about half of new managers are actually seen as being effective. So we want to provide that upskilling. Do not assume that they know everything they need to know. So as a senior leader, please be on the watch out for these three critical areas that are often overlooked as you are assessing for promotion or starting that early transition with somebody in their new people leader role!