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Two out of Three First-Time Leaders Feel Unprepared for New Jobs

New book from DDI leadership development experts provides guidance, tools and resources to significantly increase chances for success.

Pittsburgh—Tens of thousands of new leaders are promoted into jobs managing people for the first time every year. Some will find the transition easy, but Development Dimensions International (DDI) research shows that more than half will struggle. Since no one steps into leadership knowing everything they need to be successful, Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D., CEO, and Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, created a step-by-step resource, titled Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others, that explores the mindset, toolkit and practical advice first-time leaders should employ to become better and more productive leaders. It draws on the authors’ unparalleled research, experience and lessons learned helping companies select and develop thousands of leaders each year. The book covers a number of topics:

Leadership is a Choice

The authors help those considering leadership positions make the right career choices. “Contrary to popular belief, a step up to a leadership position may not be the right decision for many,” states co-author Wellins. “Both research and experience show that individuals pressured into taking a leadership role were three times more likely to be dissatisfied and twice as likely to consider quitting than those who voluntarily sought the position.”

Managing Transitions

Transitioning into a leadership position carries with it a unique set of challenges. DDI Leaders in Transition research identifies a transition into a first leadership role as one of life’s most stressful—landing on the “awake-all-night” continuum somewhere between personal illness and managing teenagers. The top challenges new leaders face identified in the book related to that transition include: 1) shifting mind-set from individual contributor to getting work done through others; 2) earning the right to lead; 3) developing a wider, broader network; and 4) translating strategy into action. For each top challenge, Your First Leadership Job provides first-time leaders with a clear path to navigate the challenges flawlessly.

The Catalyst Leader

Byham and Wellins paint a clear picture of what it takes to become a remarkable leader. They call this person a catalyst leader, who ignites energy, passion and commitment in others. The traits of this new breed of leader are critical to a new leader’s success in the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) business environment. “Catalyst leaders represent the gold standard—energetic, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in others,” states co-author Byham. “They help people and organizations grow by intentionally pursuing goals that stretch their skills and test their mettle. And, catalyst leaders are opportunity creators—they open doors of opportunity for others.”

Great Leadership is Built One Conversation at a Time

More than half of a new leader’s day is spent in conversations. They may be communicating a change, gathering data or collaborating to solve a problem. The best conversations help colleagues feel understood, valued, trusted and motivated. Byham and Wellins identify “interaction skills” as the essential foundation for these conversations and include tips on how to build those skills and make each conversation count. They point out that leaders with strong interaction skills have more engaged teams (89 percent), lead teams to exceed their productivity goals (83 percent) and are three times less likely to have turnover.

Becoming a Master of Leadership

Thirteen chapters focus on diverse and vital leadership skills such as having successful meetings, selecting new employees, handling difficult employees, dealing with your boss and more. Mastering these core skills will provide ongoing benefit now and throughout the new leader’s career.

To help reinforce learning, each book chapter includes practical guidance, technology tips and interactive toolboxes in the form of exercises, quizzes and diagnostics to bridge what is learned in the book to immediate application on the job. It also includes crowd-sourced lessons from six-dozen other leaders in the midst of their own job transitions who candidly share their struggles and offer advice for translating those early challenges into a successful leadership career. Among the dozens of endorsements the authors received, J. Scott Boston, Vice President of Human Resources, Kimberly-Clark shared, “We've done the research—leaders who build the critical skills and behaviors mentioned in this book succeed far beyond those who do not. First-time leaders who heed this advice show much greater competence and confidence and get better results through others." For more information visit: www.YourFirstLeadershipJob.com.

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Available for Interviews:
Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D., Development Dimensions International (DDI) CEO
Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D., Development Dimensions International (DDI) Senior Vice President

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