“The people stuff is the hardest. I just want to do my job, I don’t want the hassle of leading people.”
This is one of the most common themes we hear across industry and client discussions around developing early leaders. And we know it’s true – relationships and people are at the heart of successful organisations, but how do we genuinely support the people side of leadership?
A familiar story
Take the example of ‘Barry’, who worked in a manufacturing environment. A reliable and high-achieving operator who consistently hit production targets, knew every machine inside out and had learned the tools of the trade through an apprenticeship programme. As he continued to impress, his line leader saw his potential and promoted him to a leading hand role. However, once in the role, Barry struggled to translate his great work ethic and technical capability through to leading a high performing team. Dealing with performance issues, lateness and no shows at work, communicating clear instructions to his team and having to communicate up to management; he felt stressed and out of his depth. Work became unenjoyable. In fact, he became so frustrated in the role that he told his line leader he wanted to go back on the tools and step back into an operator role.
It’s a familiar story across New Zealand’s industry. The responsibility lies with organisations to have the structure and tools in place to assist developing early leaders. Why would we promote individuals in people roles with no training? We wouldn’t do it in a technical space, so why take the risk in a crucial people-facing role?
A learning and development lens applied to Barry’s situation helps to find a solution:
- What mentoring, coaching and peer-support exists in the organisation to share and debrief the challenges of leadership?
- Which training and formal qualifications exist to build confidence, knowledge and skills around leadership practice?
- Who are the role models for leadership and how do they inspire new leaders?
- Learning and development initiatives need to sit in systems and structure rather than people, to ensure long term traction.
Upskills, in partnership with Industry Partner Competenz, is offering a course for individuals and business to take up – it’s a new approach to learning which takes the best of online learning and face-to-face sessions to support new or early leaders through a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Business (Team Leadership). Importantly it’s an NZQA recognised qualification so you can feel confident that the content covers all the basics of early leadership:
- Time management
- Giving and receiving effective feedback
- Self-awareness as a leader
- Innovation and project tools
- Technology tools for leadership
- Goal setting and problem-solving tools
- Effective team communication, including your own Tetramap profile.