Why invest in emerging leader programs?

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the role of emerging leaders is more critical than ever.

As organisations are moving away from BAU and now having more focus on growth and innovation, these leaders bear the weight of guiding their teams toward success.

And yet many of these leaders are people who were really good at their technical job, got promoted, and are magically expected to know how to lead a team to optimal performance (and doing so without burnout would, of course, be great too).

This often results in people second-guessing themselves, which consumes valuable cognitive energy which could be invested more profitable ways. Without proper guidance they find leadership draining, which drains their confidence (imposter syndrome anyone?), and therefore will tend to revert to their comfort zones, typically back into the weeds of the day-to-day work, rather than the art of leading people.

Of course the root cause of this issue lies in the fact that many senior leaders themselves lack the expertise to coach emerging leaders effectively. This leaves a void of leadership clarity that creates turmoil for everyone involved. In fact, when we ask many senior leaders how they assess the leadership skills of the emerging leaders, the responses are usually very vague.

Even in my own experience, when I asked senior leadership how they will assess whether I’ve done a good job of leading a team, my question was met with resounding ambiguity. It’s quite disconcerting to think that in your performance review, you’ll be assessed in a way that senior leadership can’t clearly articulate.

The absence of a solid foundation in leadership frameworks, and the knowledge of how to implement them authentically, can set the stage for poor performance standards and, inevitably, the need for difficult conversations.

In fact, the need for these challenging discussions becomes a glaring signal that the initial implementation of leadership frameworks was flawed. If people need to have difficult conversations, it shows that there was a lack of clarity. Lack of clarity is a sign of subpar leadership.

Emerging leaders should be coached on how to remove ambiguity and normalise disagreement, which will mean that difficult conversations should be a thing of the past.

By the way – if you are considering a coaching program which has an element covering “how to have difficult conversations” that program is inherently flawed.

And “difficult conversations” are a massive drain on cognitive energy. So again, coaching around great leadership outcomes and frameworks will save a bucket load of cognitive energy.

So with this in mind, it’s important to make sure your emerging leaders have access to support to help them to lead others as effectively as possible.

Elements that should be included (and generally aren’t)

Firstly most people will agree that leadership is hard. Science helps. So you should try to ensure that your emerging leaders have research validated training on the following:

  • How to optimise the collective cognitive energy of the team
  • The outcomes team members should have if you are leading them well. How you do that – well that’s different for everyone.
  • Deep dive on how to set up for accountability, drive accountability and hold people to account – all without raising your heart rate!
  • Using neuroscience to build mental fitness towards advanced performance mindset.
  • How to set performance targets that will put your team in the right stress zone for performance.
  • Using neuroscience to influence others – especially when they may disagree with you.
  • How to ensure psychological safety by normalising disagreement.
  • How to build neural pathways to move from a technical mindset to a coaching mindset.

 

Food for thought

At NEP, some of the biggest issues in performance, and therefore lost profitability, stem from the fact that support for emerging leaders wasn’t enough.

Leadership is a learned skill and there is now so much more science available with can take the guesswork out of leadership.

A small investment in your emerging leaders can yield big results.

If you are interested in helping your emerging leaders to lead teams to success, please book your performance call to discuss your current and desired situation. Get in touch.