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Leaders in Transition: Who Helped the Most?

By Evan Sinar, Ph.D.

Evan Sinar, Ph.D.For many of today’s leaders, the corporate ladder is no longer the only way up. The once vertical structure has buckled under the weight of recession and rampant reorganization. Without traditional career trajectories, leaders are stepping off the beaten path and yes, boldly going where few have gone before.

When we asked survey participants to name their significant other—the person who helped most in their move—they chose colleagues and peers, family and friends and direct reports. Instead of looking to higher-ups for leadership how-tos, they tapped safer havens—long-time trusted advisors. Their managers, those charged with (and compensated for) mentoring, were the choice of last resort. This finding is disturbing considering that 42 percent of individual contributors (and 15 percent of strategic leaders) said “more feedback and guidance from my new manager” would have significantly eased their transitions.

Leaders in Transition

Why the managerial no-go? Transitions can be a mentoring and coaching dead space. Ideally, the handoff of responsibility for a leader-in-transition should be as seamless as the handoff of an airplane between traffic controllers. The reality is that oftentimes the former manager disengages, and the new manager—with a backlog of projects—fails to appreciate the challenges faced by the leader-in-transition.

Evan Sinar, Ph.D., is the chief scientist and director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER).

Posted: 28 May, 2014,
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