Close Menu

    Apr 07, 2020    |   Psychometrics Canada

Making the Leap: Unveiling the Challenges of Leadership Transitions

leadership transition 2-minute read

Written by Shawn Bakker, Lead Psychologist

Step 1: Individual Contributor to First Time Leader

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.

The Reality of Transitioning: A Lack of Support

Our 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.

Common Pitfalls of New Leaders

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

Bridging the Gap: Identifying Key Competencies

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!

Rethinking Developmental Support

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. Tools like the Work Personality Index®  are great at helping organizations support and develop first time leaders by providing actionable insights. To learn more about how our solutions can help your organization succeed, connect with our experts today.

Filed under: Leadership Development