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    Apr 07, 2020    |   Psychometrics Canada

Making the Leap

Written by Shawn Bakker, Lead Psychologist


Leadership is not easy. The demands of leadership are very different from those of technical contributor roles, and to meet these challenges requires different skills. Our research into leadership transitions clearly illustrates that moving through the levels of organizational leadership is challenging, and no step is more difficult than the first – moving from individual contributor to first time leader.

Our 2020 People Trends Survey found that 55% of HR professionals identify moving from contributor to leader as the most difficult shift for people to make. Unfortunately, most organizations provide little developmental support to these first-time leaders. At this transition only 21% of these individuals are getting the guidance and direction they need to make the shift to leadership. That leaves many new leaders learning to swim, or sink, on their own.

When new leaders are left to figure things out by themselves they often misplace their priorities and fail to focus on key leadership competencies. Our research shows that the most common pitfalls that result are:

  • Ineffective communication
  • Focusing too much on day to day issues
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Operating too independently

Our study also compared the importance of leadership competencies with the performance of current leaders. The largest gaps between importance and effectiveness were in the following skill areas:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Coaching
  • Problem-solving

It’s also very interesting where the gaps were the smallest. Confidence and independence!

Organizations consistently identify leadership development as a critical issue. Yet the vast majority of people in their first leadership roles are not receiving developmental opportunities and support. Instead, these developmental resources are commonly flowing to people in middle or senior leadership roles. The allocation of these resources appears to be somewhat misplaced. Our research suggests that providing more developmental support to those who are starting their leadership journey would have a significant benefit, and these efforts should focus on soft skills and problem-solving.

Filed under: Leadership Development