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The Value of Leadership Training for Newly Promoted Supervisors

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Whenever I visit a new coaching client, I encounter at least one supervisor or manager who has been promoted from a field position to a leadership job within the last two years. When asked if they’ve attended any leadership classes or were given any books to read to prepare them for the new position, the vast majority usually say no. 

My next question is, “How is your performance measured?” The answer is usually, “My boss lets me know how I’m doing or if something isn’t right.” They may also share some financial data that they were given but do not fully understand. After spending a day or two with them, I realize most of their time is spent putting out fires, following up on work that some of their team members have not done correctly, or being the person that has to handle all of the “more difficult” work.  

Unfortunately, I find that in many cases, this person went from a premier role as being one of the most talented technicians to feeling like a failure in their leadership role. Although they want to do a good job, they do not know how to do it well. The only training they had was what they experienced from previous supervisors or managers.   

When promoted, most people do not realize how different their roles and objectives will be from what they have been doing well for so long. Some of the obvious potential pitfalls and lack of understanding include the following: 

  • Being measured by how other people perform. 
  • Managing processes rather than performing assigned tasks. 
  • Handling conflict. 
  • Reprimanding others. 
  • Developing and creating new methods and implementing them. 
  • Business financials. 
  • Following a budget. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. 

It’s a good idea also to investigate and determine if this person has leadership skills. Some of the critical attributes to look for include: 

  • Transparency

    Will they be able to be transparent in their decisions and actions to avoid challenges from their team members? 

  • Able to Accept Failure

    Can they accept that they will probably fail at tasks in their job much more than before? Remember, failure grows leadership skills. 

  • Trustworthy

    Are they loyal and will they keep their word? 

  • Confident

    Do they have confidence in their work? A lack of confidence shows weakness and insecurity in making decisions. 

  • Possess Humility

    Are they humble? Being humble is essential to building a team that is there for each other. 

  • Decisiveness

    Can they make decisions confidently? A wishy-washy response to a challenge shows weakness and the inability to handle sticky situations. 

  • Creative

    Are they creative? This seems to be something many people overlook when deciding who to promote. Creativity is essential to being a great leader. Being able to look outside the box to solve problems and improve business performance is key. 

  • Caring

    Do they care about their team? When team members have personal challenges or struggle with a particular part of their job, a good leader should be willing to listen to their team members. 

  • Ability to be a Coach

    Can they coach their team? A leader must be willing to observe, identify, listen, and educate when necessary to help a team member.  

There are a variety of books on leadership that I could recommend that everyone reads, but there are too many to list here. However, I will share the book I followed when I first became a manager in the early 80s. It was called “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. The most recent version is “The New One Minute Manager.” I give these to every coaching client to read.  

In my next article, I will share more leadership topics. 

Should you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly at  

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: Leadership & Planning, Leadership Development, Strategic Planning

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