For more than 40 years, Wilson Learning has been in the leadership development business. The company’s experience working with all levels of an organization has afforded them a wide lens into the upper-level staffing shortage being created by massive amounts of retiring workers. Wilson Learning’s latest article, “Solving Your Leadership Gap: Tips for Developing New Leaders,” highlights the problem behind the problem for the reported 94 percent of organizations that are unprepared to replace exiting Baby Boomers. The crisis isn’t just the mushrooming leadership gap—it’s how to effectively train (and retain) the talent being promoted to these vacated leadership positions. Too often, new leaders are being consumed by the pressures of their new responsibilities, spinning into a cycle of micromanaging, alienating those they lead, and overworking themselves in the process.
Tom Roth, COO of Wilson Learning Worldwide and author of the article mentioned above, explains: “The only way to sustain high performance is to teach new leaders how to create conditions that facilitate the engagement, performance, and, ultimately, fulfillment of the individuals on their teams.”
Because they are eager to demonstrate their abilities, newly appointed managers strive to provide quick results, often by falling back on what they know best—the technical abilities that helped them excel up to this point. But because they haven’t learned how to transition from doer to manager, they end up pushing, rather than leading, their teams. They haven’t been given the tools to productively lead those they now manage. According to Roth, “Leadership is not just about driving results. Understanding this requires a new perspective on what it means to be a leader, as well as the courage to learn and apply these behaviors.”
To successfully replenish their leadership workforce, organizations need to teach new leaders how to focus less on their own performance and instead help their team members find purpose and meaning in the work they do. The leaders who learn to combine the elements that connect an individual contributor’s passion to the contribution of the team will be able to solve problems by leading others to solve problems, creating a win-win for themselves, their teams, and the organizations wise enough to invest in training their newest leaders.