Pittsburgh — Taking on a leadership position is stressful.
It’s more stressful than raising teenagers, getting married or even getting a divorce. “It’s a major transition,” Richard Wellins said.
Wellins is the co-author of “Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others” with Tacy Byham, the CEO-to-be of Development Dimensions International, based outside Pittsburgh.
According to their research, 78 percent of people in a management position would give up that job if they could keep the money and the perquisites that go along with it.
Part of the problem with management is how managers get their jobs.
Many are pulled from the ranks of the people who do the work. A survey of first-time managers by Development Dimensions International found that 20 percent of the people promoted into management were moved up as a reward for their technical skills. Another 11 percent said, “There was no one else for the job.”
When asked why they were making the transition into management, 6 percent said, “I didn’t give it much thought — I just took it”; another 6 percent said, “I thought it would look good on my resume”; nearly 10 percent said, “Anything is better than where I was before,” the same percentage as those who said “It paid more, and the money was more important than the work.”; 13 percent said, “I felt like I didn’t have a choice.”
Another 20 percent were happier, saying, “It was an unexpected opportunity that I was thrilled to accept.” Only 29 percent, or less than a third, said their move into management was “part of my long-term career plan/goals.”
In other words, two-thirds of the new managers were not specifically seeking a management role when they got the nod and nearly half didn’t specifically want to be a manager.
So, the news is not good that the best predictor of the success of a new manager is whether or not he or she actually wanted the job.
“Leaders will be much more successful if they had a choice,” Wellins said. “Choice correlates with performance.”
What those new leaders need to embrace, Byham said, is moving “from being the star to letting other people shine.”
“Your success is their success,” Wellins said.
Management skills aren’t technical, instead they are maintaining the team’s esteem, listening to team members and coaching people to do their best, Byham said. “You have to bring out the best in people and be receptive to feedback,” she said.
Practicing those leadership techniques will not only help lead a team of employees, it may even help with those teenagers.