I’ll get straight to the point:
Only promote, and hire, leaders who possess the necessary leadership competencies, values and behaviours, and who desire to help others. Never put someone into a leadership role as a next step promotion or reward for a job well done.
That one point, one singular point, would solve most of the leadership problems faced day in day out be most organisations.
I have spoken with countless leaders at all levels in many industries and time and again promotions occur because an individual is, or is perceived to be, good at their current job. The only recognised way of rewarding them is to promote them. They are then by default promoted into leadership roles they are not ready for, not trained for, and often don’t want.
This occurs with sales people, marketing, ops, police, technical specialists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, accountants the list goes on. Being outstanding at a profession, task or skill, does not in anyway predetermine that you will be good at leadership.
This is without comparison the biggest reason for leadership failure, but there is a solution.
There are three steps we can take:
- Create progression and reward structures that allow individuals to be rewarded for success that does not force them into leadership responsibility. Salary, title, benefits can all be used along with adding responsibilities such as mentor that benefit all parties without taking someone away from what they are good at and love.
- Create a system that picks up early those who demonstrate the basic leadership competencies, values and behaviours.
- Build a training and development programme that develops these future leaders from an early stage so that values and behaviours are embedded early and can be built on throughout their career.
- Allow movement between these two streams if people change their focus and abilities over time.
That then leaves us with a group of high performing, highly skilled delivery specialists doing that which they get most satisfaction from, led by a group of highly skilled and motivated leaders.