The Elbow Turns are Critical to Prepare a Leader for the Next Level

 In Leaders

Our Leaders in Motion™ program leads first and second level managers through a great series of topics that deal specifically with the fundamentals of management — focused on new mindsets, management behaviors and people skills to add to your arsenal as a leader of individuals and teams.

In one of our past sessions we discussed the typical transition from individual contributor to manager that is characterized by ‘doing more of what you did well as a successful individual contributor, only working faster and harder, doing more of what got you here’.  You can imagine the rich conversation and even the sighs of relief when the participants realized they were not alone.  They all, to some extent, relied heavily on what ‘got them here’ to be successful as a manager.

On one hand, the discussion made me realize how valuable our 6-month series would be for these managers who are quite successful in their own right.  But, they all clearly benefitted from new mindsets that generated a different perspective, new behaviors, and a bolstered management toolkit.  In other words, they learned pretty quickly that ‘what got them here, won’t get them where they want to go next’.  They need to learn new skills and behaviors… and that starts with mindset.

And, then I thought — No wonder these new managers are leaning on exactly what got them to the management position in the first place!  

No wonder they are exhausted from doing more, faster, harder, and with higher expectations!  I say ‘no wonder’ because I ask myself — how have they been prepared for the transition to the next level?  Most of them were promoted them based on their technical expertise, sales success, operational excellence or ability to achieve goals.   Of course, those are critical.  But, while those achievements may be necessary to earn a promotion, they are not all that is needed for success at the next level.  Exactly what other competencies are needed?

I first considered this concept while reading “The Leadership Pipeline” (Charan, Dotter, Noel).  This book discusses the concept at length.  I have used the idea for years now and refer to these ‘transition’ skills as ‘the elbow in the turn’.  In other words, what skills are required as a manager that were irrelevant to a successful individual contributor?  Or, if you are moving from a first level manager to a manager of managers… what new skills do you need?  After you have identified the skills, dig deeper to understand the mindsets that underlie these skills and behaviors.  The easiest example for a new leader is the difference between getting results by driving your own behavior toward target versus as a manager having to equip, enable, and energize others toward their own goals.  It is critical — a leader cannot carry the entire team on their back for long!  You get the idea.

Careful consideration of these ‘elbow turns’ is so important for every change in management level.  It is one of the first steps in any management development effort!

Have you thought about the ‘elbow’ turn for each position within your company’s career paths?

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