Where’s the Executive Leadership Development App?
Posted on March 2, 2011 by Baxter Dickson
You’ve got very smart people – successful experts in technology, engineering, science, finance or some other specialty. Now their success has earned them a management role, but they seem to be struggling.
It’s not an uncommon situation. And why would it be? Management and leadership are skills that need to be learned and honed like any other. You wouldn’t expect a chemist to become your head of accounting, or your software developer to manage the customer service center – at least not without training. That’s why clients across the country have asked me to facilitate or develop a custom VoicePro® program for technology experts moving into leadership positions. Here are a few of the challenges we tackle.
Shift the focus from projects to people.
For someone who’s built a success on individual contribution, there’s an inclination to put the emphasis on the projects and results. A new leader needs to understand that personal effort is no longer the most effective way to move a team or department forward. Paying attention to guiding and motivating people is the new fulcrum for success, multiplying impact.
Disentangle from the technical jobs.
It is natural to gravitate to handling tasks and challenges in ways that are familiar, and perhaps, thereby easier. A new manager may be tempted to take on his or her old tasks in addition to their new responsibilities. Now two jobs are being done inefficiently. Learning to delegate appropriately allows the new manager to focus on his or her area of responsiblity, while promoting a sense of trust and collaboration within the team.
Switch from tech talk to plain talk.
If the person will be making presentations to non-technical clients or higher ups, the technical jargon that worked well with peers suddenly becomes a barrier to success. A shift in language and presentation materials is likely required. More than that, a new view of what messages are crucial to the audience is likely.
Develop personal presence.
It’s not easy moving from being “one of the guys” to the leader. A new manager may feel timid about the new role, which interferes with authority, trust and authenticity. Personal presence starts with an open, strong posture and good eye contact is essential. Deep breathing can help allay stress, and enable a strong, clear voice that signals control.
Know that communication is at the core of success.
Laser focus on a technical task is no longer going to get the new manager positive results. From now on, briefing, delegating, disciplining, collaboration, motivation – they’re going to be crucial. And communication is how they happen. That’s why the first priority of many individuals (and their organizations) is a communication skills workshop or other development strategy.
Everyone needs a sounding board and a guide. A mentor can provide immediate support and advice. And who knows? The relationship could provide the kind of bond that spans an entire career.
Provide development support.
New managers are often highly educated technicians and intelligent achievers who may be more accustomed to being “ahead of the curve”. Setbacks and mistakes can make them doubt their own abilities. This is important to remember if you are a new manager’s supervisor or a human resources professional working with them as they develop into their new managerial role. Workshops or private coaching, like those offered by VoicePro, can jumpstart success in a new role.
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VoicePRO® delivers transformative leadership and communication programs for individuals and companies across the globe. Through VoicePRO®, professionals develop the advanced skills needed to communicate clearly, influence audiences and achieve results.
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