Thursday, March 9, 2017

What New Leaders and THEIR Bosses Need to Know

“Almost SIXTY percent of new leaders receive NOTHING in formal training or development when they become a boss for the first time.”

That’s just one of the startling statistics in William A. (Bill) Gentry’s excellent book: Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders.

I clearly remember the first time I was put in a position to supervise other people.

The problem, which I didn’t appreciate at all at the time, was that I did not have a clue about what the role entailed. There was assumption that I would know what to do just because I was put in that position.

The reality: I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I made a lot of mistakes. 

I could have accelerated my learning curve and avoided several issues if I’d had Bill Gentry’s book as my guide.

Here’s why…

Dr. Gentry writes from a unique perspective. In his role as a research scientist at the prestigious Center for Creative Leadership for many years, he had access to – and freely shares in the book – data on what effective leaders do and don’t do.

During his tenure there, he got promoted from individual contributor to Director, so he experienced first-hand the high’s and low’s of making the shift. His personal stories throughout are enlightening as well as poignant, and I appreciated his willingness to be vulnerable.

In fact, he could have been describing me when he wrote that he got feedback about how…

…“serious” and at times, “intimidating” he was when someone approached him.

…“focused, really busy and unapproachable” he appeared if a direct report came into his office unexpectedly.

Many years ago, I received almost identical comments from some of my team members in one of my 360 feedback reports.

I relate to authors who position themselves as guides or companions on the journey, not an expert who has all the answers. Dr. Gentry exemplifies this role of guide as he masterfully combines his own experiences with established research.

The overall message is that a new leader must "flip the script.”

What worked as an individual contributor – such as a concentration on “me” and my own results – will not serve you well when you take on a team where “we” and achieving outcomes together must be the focus.
Dr. Gentry not only presents excellent content in the book itself on vital topics like mindset, relationships and focus – he provides a wealth of additional resources on his website,

“As a leader, you represent, symbolize and personify the organization to your direct reports. So those who report to you attribute how well the organization supports them based on how well YOU support them.” – Bill Gentry

This book should be required reading for high potentials who’ve been identified for future leadership positions, so they know what types of adjustments they’ll need to make when transitioning from individual contributor to boss.

It’s also essential for new leaders and those who supervise new leaders, so there’s a common understanding of the changes required to be an outstanding supervisor or manager on Day 1.

“The people you lead want to know that someone—you, in particular—prioritizes their development and growth. So, make learning and development a priority for the people you lead and serve.” – Bill Gentry

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