Study Suggests Lack of Key Skills At Mid-Managerial Levels Can Compromise Ability to Execute Business Strategies

Leadership Forum Sept 2012

Leadership and Management (Photo credit: mylearning)

New research shows that mid-level leaders are falling short in several critical competencies. These failures can have a significant impact on business results given mid-level leaders’ responsibility to execute strategy to help drive business forward.

In a recent research, bosses rated the current skill level of mid-level leaders, who are defined as managers of managers, based on several competencies. The bosses ranked them as excelling in just two competencies: “drive for results” and “customer focus.”

Bosses ranked the mid-level leaders as falling short in the following competency areas:

  • Structuring the work/execution
  • Analysis/judgment
  • Relationships
  • Influence
  • Engage and inspire
  • Building talent

The research also indicated first-level leaders ranked higher than mid-level leaders in several competency areas, including “engage and inspire,” “build relationships,” “influence,” and “execution.”

“This doesn’t mean that mid-level leaders’ level of performance is diminishing from their previous roles,” said Stu Crandell, senior vice president, Korn/Ferry International. “What the results do suggest is that the competency expectations for these leaders are much higher, and mid-level leaders must continually develop and push to meet new challenges.”

Among the key factors for mid-level leaders’ success is letting go of select behaviors that helped them succeed in their previous positions. For example, too much attention to detail in mid-level leader positions becomes a derailer, while it may have been rewarded in previous roles. Mid-level leaders must instead enlist others to assist with managing details. Other mid-level leader derailers include micromanaging and conflict-avoidance behaviors.

“Individuals establish their derailing behaviors early on, and they can be difficult to change without the right attention and development,” Crandell said. “However, leaders who understand how derailers affect them can actively develop and manage through them.”

Performance feedback, consistent coaching and regular reviews of development plans are effective ways to help leaders gain awareness of potential issues so they can make adjustments that will improve leadership effectiveness.

Source: PDI Ninth House



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