Leaping the Leadership Chasm – how to protect your reputation and value

According to Kieran Hearty, author of ‘How to Eat the Elephant in the Room’, sometimes, despite a promotion, we actually fail to leap the ‘chasm’ from worker to manager, or manager to leader successfully. When this happens, our reputation and our value suffers.

For example, if you’re a worker your relative value may be considered to be 25% and as a manager your relative value should increase to 50%. However if you fail to leap the chasm from worker to manager successfully your relative value may not increase to anywhere near 50%. In some cases it may even fall to below 25% as you and, in turn, your team, become ever less productive.

This is borne out by a recent Gallup survey concluded that 82% of managers are ‘wrongly appointed’.

When making the transition from worker to manager, and then manager to leader, it’s necessary to leap two chasms. A successful leap will boost your reputation and relative value.

Below Kieran Hearty explains the chasms, the signs of failure and how to make a successful leap:

First Chasm

Failed Transition from Worker to Manager

A manager’s primary responsibility is their team’s output. Instead of focusing on coaching and supporting the team in order to maximise their output, you continue to focus on just your output. Overall productivity plummets.

As you become more stressed and exhausted your behaviour towards team members may also decline, which impacts morale.

The impact: Your value to the organisation, instead of rising towards 50%, falls dramatically. There is still some value in the individual tasks that you perform, but even this will erode as you continue to try to do everything.

How to successfully leap the FIRST CHASM

  1. Change your attitude. You are now a Manager. Accept the job change!
  2. Rewrite your job description.  Formalise your new responsibilities.
  3. It’s not about you! Your team doesn’t work for you. You work for them.
  4. Delegate. The more you can ‘let go’ the higher your value will rise.
  5. Be a coach. Ensure each team member has everything they need to succeed.
  6. Develop. Invest time in making each team member as capable as you were.
  7. Collaborate. Support other managers who depend on your team.

Second Chasm

Failed Transition from Manager (or Worker) to Leader

There are two levels to this chasm, the deepest of which is occupied by leaders who failed to leap the first chasm, but somehow continued their upward progression.

Successful managers demonstrate some solid leadership potential, but once again, they may need to ‘let go’ of a lot of their tactical focus in order to be more strategic.

One difference is that whereas the role of each manager should be to serve their team, the role of each leader is to serve their managers.

How to successfully leap the SECOND CHASM

  1. Change your attitude. Your role has changed again.
  2. Be strategic. Let go of tactical work.
  3. Coach and develop your managers. A critical strategic imperative.
  4. Be a mentor. Spot and groom the right talent at all levels.
  5. Take responsibility. Learn from your people by listening to their feedback.
  6. Serve the company. Find opportunities to externally support the company.
  7. Communicate. Inform and energise your people every time they meet you.

Whilst the implication of the Gallup survey is that 82% of managers are not very good, there is also an indictment of any leader or HR person who sanctioned their appointments.

However whilst the implications are grave, the opportunity is great; by taking time to understand these chasms in greater depth, and to taking steps to ensure we, and the people we promote, can successfully leap them, we will help our businesses to grow and our teams to develop.

Image: Leadership via Shutterstock