Do you have a team member who has stumbled into leadership? You know, that person who, because they are talented, has been pushed to promotion at every turn.
This is a problem, because accidental leaders are often elevated without being provided the proper support.
That’s why many of them fail.
How can you tell if you have an accidental leader – and how can you help them to succeed?
Recognizing your accidental leader
You have a team member who has been promoted because they were talented at a functional specialty. Or someone above them in the hierarchical structure has left the business and they have been asked to fill the gap.
But your accidental leader is floundering, now. Even though they have area-specific skills, they struggle with core competencies and interpersonal relationships. They may have a challenge managing multiple pieces, or they have not gained the respect of his reports. This slows down an entire area of operation.
Your accidental leader has a limited shelf life and time is running out.
If you are like most companies, your organization is full of good people in this situation, and their lack of ability is compromising your ability to do business.
How can you turn this around?
The components to successfully developing their leadership is the same, whether you are intervening with one accidental leader or several.
Co-design their 90-day plan.
Work with your accidental leader to outline the focus of their first 90 days. This plan should include targeting short-term wins to build reputation, steps toward long-term goals for focus and traction, important activities for visibility, and key stakeholders to include in their initiatives to build influence. The plan allows you to mentor them as they make progress, pinpointing any areas that require a teaching moment.
Provide the right kind of support.
The accidental leader needs support through formal and informal training. Coursework addressing important elements of leadership such as communication, influence and agility should be included. The new leader should also be paired with a seasoned “buddy” who helps them to learn the ins and outs of being on the executive team, fast-track strategic networking, and serve as a sounding board.
Fast-track their potential through sponsoring them.
You, as seasoned leader, can help them to gain great credibility by being their sponsor (some refer to this as “champion.”) Moving beyond mentoring, a sponsor is an advocate invested in a protégé’s success. Advocacy can take the shape of positioning the accidental leader and opening doors and facilitating career-building opportunities for the new leader.
I help companies implement this approach on both individual and large scales, and the results are remarkable. Top leadership reports higher performance, increased trust throughout the company, and a renewed confidence around taking the organization into the future.
DO OTHERS REALLY TRUST YOU?
Learn the two vital parts to trust and how they can help you become a more highly effective leader.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.