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Frontline Leader Project

DDI's Frontline Leader Project explores research behind the anxiety of frontline leaders.

Publish Date: March 1, 2019

Read Time: 34 min


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Exploring the Most Critical Segment of Leaders

For decades, DDI has studied and worked alongside frontline managers through their transformation from individual contributor to leader. In our work, we’ve seen a common theme of anxiety—felt both by frontline leaders and the people around them. This lack of confidence is critical because frontline leaders are responsible for more than 80 percent of an organization’s workforce and are directly responsible for executing an organization's strategy.

Our ongoing Frontline Leader Project explores research behind the anxiety of frontline leaders, including their path to leadership, the challenges they face, and the expectations on them by other people.

The Road to Becoming a Manager

Did you know that the average age that people first become a manager is 36? In this portion of our research, we answer not only when people get their first opportunity to lead, but also who typically gets the opportunity and how their background contributes to their successes and struggles.

In addition, these findings explore the gender gap, show how the label “high-potential” can impact the development of a first-level manager, and delve into the question of whether or not MBAs create better leaders.

Challenges Leaders Are Facing

On the job, frontline leaders are grappling with substantial challenges that stand in the way of success. Read on to find out what frontline leaders are grappling with most—including which skills they feel least prepared to master, what they feel is lacking from their current development, why some leaders struggle to understand organizational purpose, and more.

The Secret Life of Bosses

Recent survey data from frontline leaders further exposes the stress people feel as they transition from individual contributor roles to managerial positions. Read on to get in the minds of these new leaders and learn why they accepted their first leadership role, how many levels of leadership they’d like to climb, what stresses them out the most, and more.

What Do People Want From Their Frontline Leaders?

This portion of the Frontline Leader Project provides insight into how other people view frontline managers. We’re looking at the data from two perspectives. The first is what individual contributors say they want from their bosses. The second is what senior leaders say they wish lower level leaders would do differently. The combination of these two perspectives helps to give a full perspective of the pressures frontline leaders are facing from others.

The Frontline Leader Project

Download the report to check out all of our 20+ research findings on frontline managers. Learn who gets the opportunity to lead, why leaders went into management, what managers are grappling with the most, and more. You can also explore DDI's solutions for this most critical segment of leaders.

Frontline Leader Project
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