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Why leadership development matters

You’d think that becoming the boss is an exhilarating, wonderful time. That may be the case for a few brief moments but actually, according to a wellbeing and health site, it is number four in the top of most stressful life situations, higher than being the victim of a crime. However, talking to somebody you like seems to be responsible for even more fidgeting than starting out as a new manager.

Breaking the ice with the potential love of your life is a one-time occurrence but being in charge of people and projects is an ongoing deal and as research shows:

  • 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job according to their subordinates,
  • 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others to begin with, and
  • almost 60% said they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.

With these statistics, it’s no wonder 50% of managers in organizations are ineffective.

The poor results come from them not fully realizing what they are getting themselves into when it comes to leading others, not being supported in their new leadership role and not being given the opportunity for training and development early enough in their careers as leaders.

The expert opinion

As Harvard Professor Linda A. Hill, author of "Becoming the Boss" points out: "Executives are shaped irrevocably by their first management positions. Decades later, they recall those first months as transformational experiences that forged their leadership philosophies and styles in ways that may continue to haunt and hobble them throughout their careers. Organizations suffer considerable human and financial costs when a person who has been promoted because of strong individual performance and qualifications fails to adjust successfully to management responsibilities.
One of the first things new managers discover is that their role, by definition a stretch assignment, is even more demanding than they’d anticipated. They are surprised to learn that the skills and methods required for success as an individual contributor and those required for success as a manager are starkly different — and that there is a gap between their current capabilities and the requirements of the new position."

Replacing a leader is a long term process and a rather costly one. Poor leadership almost always generates dissatisfaction among team members and decreased performance so it is very important to support new managers on their journey.

E-learning for leaders – the bite-sized solution

With so many resources given to corporate training, one may wonder why at this time so little attention is given to leadership development.

One issue might be the fact that no business ever hires entire teams of managers, all equal in competency and skill so they can’t set up a program, get everybody on it and be done with it. And when there are more ‘first time managers’ starting around the same time, they usually are in charge of teams with very different activities and located in remote geographical locations.

Luckily, we live in the age of mobility and fast-speed internet so e-learning is the perfect solution for effective, personalized leadership development as long as you manage to engage your learners.

Making sure you take into account previous professional and personal experience is key to getting young managers on board with the learning program. If they got to be ‘in charge’, that means they have reached a certain level of expertise in their prior roles. The e-learning you enroll managers in should acknowledge the skill and competency level of these employees and use it as a starting block of learning.

Also, since managers are usually very busy, make sure you are flexible in when and how the online courses can be accessed. E-learning courses should make their point in a time-effective and memorable way, rather than asking managers to click through endless screens of information. Instructional designers should set it up in such a way as to be easily browsed through, remembered and shared.

Using some method of highlighting the key points is also a good idea as is chunking up the courses into bite size modules. They do not take a lot of time and are easily accessible when the information they contain comes in handy.

Well-tailored online training – a must

Managers are usually ambitious people who place a lot of value on self-development so they should be given the opportunity to explore and reflect on aspects they find most interesting. Links to further research and specialized groups in which they can ask peers for advice or expertise will come in very handy. Any information they get should be both valuable and applicable.

As I have stated before, since they became leaders, they have a high degree of expertise, they need guidance on how to use it to improve their teams. It is important to them to see case studies and understand how anything they learn can be used in what they have to do.

Well-tailored e-learning is an effective way to deliver management level training as it allows the autonomy managers so badly need and the flexibility of easily fitting in training sessions into busy work schedules.

Keeping in mind that the first time managers of today are the business leaders of tomorrow, make sure they have the tools and support to become the people who will take your company to the top.