Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® II model is based on the idea that an individual’s development is goal or task specific. It also teaches that there are four predictable phases a person goes through as they develop. In a nutshell when learning something new we often start out as an Enthusiastic Beginner. Then from there, if we stay at it and practice we become a Self-Reliant Achiever.
One challenge organizations face is when individual contributors, who are Self-Reliant Achievers in most of their work, are tapped for leadership roles. While they may be experts in their previous individual role, they are rarely at the Self-Reliant Achiever level when they move into their first leadership position.
More realistically they start out as beginners commencing a long leadership development learning journey. This shift from being master of their previous universe to “wet behind the ears” can often be challenging. If new leaders don’t recognize that they aren’t, nor should they expect to be self-reliant it can create self-doubt. And self-doubt can eat away at their confidence which can hinder needed learning.
As a coach—or anyone helping someone else step up to leadership for the first time, here are a few ways you can help someone along that journey.
Set reasonable expectations. Growing and developing leadership skills is a learning journey. Recognizing that can help. Truly acknowledging that our first attempts will likely not be our best attempts allows us to give ourselves the “grace” to be a learner.
Practice, practice, practice. We don’t learn through osmosis or simply by knowing. We learn by applying what we know. We try, fail, and if we are smart, get up and try again taking note of what we did right.
Ask for help. We need to embrace our role as a learner and courageously ask others for help and guidance. Learn from our boss, or a mentor, or those who have leadership skills we admire. When asked, most relish the opportunity to share their wisdom. Let’s not struggle in silence.
In working with clients, I’ve always believed the old saying Success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. When you lead, mentor or coach a first-time manager, let them know that learning to be an effective leader requires a lot of effort—and it will only be harder if they become their own worst enemy. Help them realize they will need to give themselves a break and understand there is no quick or easy path to skilled leadership. Actually I think we all need to remember this because in today’s rapidly changing world –learning something new is likely a common occurrence.
What are your thoughts and experiences about coaching new leaders?
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.