The Cost of a Failed Manager

It is estimated that the cost of a failed manager is equal to $500,000 and when considering the cost of failed leadership and the possibilities for extraordinary leadership, it seems obvious that it's important to invest in developing management talent in producing extraordinary leadership. It is estimated that 30% of leadership is heritable and 70% is developed, which proves that organizations should get busy in developing its managers to avoid the cost of failure.

So how does one groom managers for extraordinary leadership? First, it's about preparation. Leadership is about what you do, how you think, and who you are. Managers who lack this insight may also lack the skills necessary to effectively manage people. While leadership is an individual capability, management is all about non-linearity. You know, it's that feeling of "what the heck was that all about?" in dealing with the inherent chaos that encompasses their day-to-day lives, especially early in their careers. In physics, a linear system is one in which the whole is equal to the sum of its parts and in which the sum of a collection of causes produce a corresponding sum of effects.

Not all things are created equal

For those who have worked in management, can you name a time when have all things been equal? Instead, managers and leaders alike are faced with nonlinear systems in which diversity, patterns of behavior, and unknown influences create chaos (the whole is now greater than the sum of its parts). It's at this point where managers are made and potential leadership is transformed. Transformation is the process of developing and organizing new knowledge in such a way that it becomes useful to managers. The significance of this transformation is in the manager's ability to learn new skills, change attitudes, and grow self-awareness.

Customized Development Plans

Management development is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a tailored approach which meets the needs of the individual and the organization. Understanding a managers development needs early will produce significant leaps in leadership capabilities later on. Development plans should allow for challenges in which the manager is given an opportunity to figure out which assumptions and behaviors to leave behind, in addition to which new ones to incorporate into their leadership style. Transitioning is psychological and is the process by which individuals adapt to challenges that change creates. These development opportunities provide the necessary learning for a new manager to make important transitions as they move into leadership roles.

Manager development plans should also allow for time; time that is not locked into a productivity measurement, but rather time which is set aside for invisible creative activities. Managers need time to process and reexamine some of their fundamental assumptions, work through new challenges, and come to terms with conditions that change creates. In short, managers need time to be creative. Creativity is crucial adopting new behaviors in transitioning into leadership.

Following These Easy Steps

So how can organizations ensure the success of their managers? By asking these three fundamental questions and designing an individual development plan for the manager.

  • What does it mean for this manager to be a leader in this new role?
  • How can the manager get things done in a different business context?
  • How can the manager stay true to themselves?

These questions should address four common leadership challenges.

  • Managing and motivating others
  • Managing relationships with peers and bosses
  • Developing a leadership mind-set
  • Coping with setbacks and disappointment.

With every evolutionary stage of a business or personal transition, managers and leaders should ask these questions to re-adapt leadership styles and practices. It's about context and finding creative solutions that facilitate transitions from management to leadership. Isn't it time to unleash our manager's greatness, to develop extraordinary leaders, and stop walking our money out the door?

©  Darrielle Ehrheart | January 7, 2015

Resources and further reading:

Benjamin, B., & O'Reilly, C. (2011). Becoming a Leader: Early Career Challenges Faced by MBA Graduates. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(3), 452-472. Standford University
Mackenzie, G. (1996). Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's guide to Surviving with Grace. New York, NY: Penguin Group

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