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Corner Office: Succession with Progression
How managers transition to leaders.

by Brian Braudis, President of The Braudis Group

Managers are typically promoted into leadership roles with the assumption that their effectiveness will continue; but rather than assume, senior leaders are wise to put into place a two-pronged approach to succession.

The first prong is to pick the right candidate. The old cliché applies: “Hire for attitude and train for ability.”

The second prong is to cultivate the carefully selected candidate long before we flip the switch. Ideally, extensive cross-training and varied experiences culminate as understanding the “leadership landscape.”

Leadership can be polarizing, ambiguous, volatile and complex; so out of necessity, robust support systems must be in place. A network of peers, mentors and coaches is the classic challenge/support system that creates an effective and supportive transition. New leaders must shift in these five areas:

Production to Outcomes
The immediate challenge for managers is to shift from a “making widgets” mindset to an “influencing outcomes” mindset. Rather than counting widgets, a new leader must have both eyes toward efficiencies now and necessary adaptations toward the future.

As the new leader begins working with stakeholders, they need a new perspective—the long-term view with the idea of a short-term, stepping stone, daily implementation.

Specialist to Visionary
Managers thrive as specialists. They know their department, their people and their function. That’s not enough for a leader. Leaders must know the language of all departments. They must be able to translate information, patterns and trends from departments into the language of efficiencies, profit and vision.

The vision of the organization is up to leadership—no one else can take the reins here. Leaders must harness what is known now, the trends they see in the telescope and provide a vision. The one big advantage that is difficult for competitors to duplicate is everyone rowing in the same direction toward the big prize.

From One to All
A new leader may have lingering “departmental biases” that show up as baggage that slows meetings and other processes down. The classic mistake is for new leaders to fall into their previous function and overmanage and underlead. Colleagues need to give the new leader their patience while they cultivate an open-minded shift from managing one department to serving all departments in the organization.

Solving Problems to Seeing Problems Before They Develop
Strictly speaking, managers and leaders are keen problem solvers. But one of the finer points of leadership—and where leaders earn their keep—is seeing problems before they happen. If a leader can identify slowed growth or a decline early on and proactively put things in place to avoid the dreaded “workforce planning,” this “seeing” will save everyone.

Worker to Learner
Leadership is not about knowing—it’s about learning. New leaders typify the shift from a working manager to a learning leader. As they work to cultivate an open mind and flexibility, they must also demonstrate a commitment to relentless self-improvement— that means applying continuous learning toward competency, excellence and greatness.

When new developing leaders are hand-selected, cultivated and afforded the organizational backing necessary for success, it’s beyond an exercise in succession. It’s a testament to a leadership strategy and the state-of-the-art demonstration of a leadership culture. Over time, the effort results in duplication and sustainable success.

Brian Braudis is a certified coach and author, and president of The Braudis Group. He works with leaders to increase progress, productivity and profit.

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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 9, Issue 6 (June 2019).

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