Why Qualified People Are Hesitant to Lead

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Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made. They are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” It’s difficult to argue against one of the most successful NFL coaches in history, especially when research supports his claim.

Research shows only about 30% of leadership is genetic, while 70% results from life lessons and experience. Many excellent and capable employees are hesitant to assume leadership roles. Below are some of the reasons why and a few things that can help organizations identify and develop potential leaders.

Recognize Promising Employees

The first step in getting more qualified people to lead is identifying leadership potential. Then, there’s a fine line between encouraging employees to become leaders and forcing them into positions they are not comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that just because an employee has significant knowledge and on-the-job experience doesn’t automatically mean that they have an innate sense of leadership.

When recognizing potential leaders, start by looking for employees who show an eagerness to learn in their current roles. People who hold themselves accountable for successes and failures usually make good leaders too. Potential leaders will have a history of staying calm amidst challenges and bringing solutions to the table during those times.

Understanding Perceived Leadership Risks 

Recent studies have indicated some of the main reasons why qualified people are hesitant to lead. The degree of interpersonal risk associated with being a leader scares employees. Employees fear that they may have to compromise their interpersonal relationships with colleagues if they chose to become leaders. Others are reluctant to become leaders because they don’t want to be seen differently. In addition, some people are afraid of taking the blame for failure. Fortunately, there are some practical ways to help people overcome these risks and still become strong leaders.

Mitigating the Risks

Many potential leaders in your organization may see leadership as risky. We can help people overcome these additional challenges by including them in significant projects and commending them for their leadership contributions in company newsletters, social media channels, and boardroom meetings. Lastly, career consequences tend to hold people back from leadership opportunities. If you can provide high-potential people with safer environments to maintain their credibility, more of them will be willing to advance their careers.

Since most people aren’t born leaders and may be reluctant to take on new responsibilities, companies have to be proactive in identifying those promising employees and focusing on their development.


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How to Help Your Employees Develop

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Although some organizations argue that external training programs are the most effective, there are also plenty of advantages associated with internal training for both employers and employees. As executive recruiters, employers are always asking us what they can do to improve employee retention. If you’re already offering competitive salaries, the opportunity to do meaningful work, and exclusive benefits, the next step is to enhance your training and development opportunities. For instance, there are various informal methods that can be very constructive for developing talent internally. When it comes to talent development, sometimes it can be helpful to go back to the basics.

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Talent development should be a top priority of any manager. Unfortunately, too many employers fail to learn what training their employees need to reach their short- and long-term career goals. The best way to learn is to ask them what they find most compelling about their current position, what tasks they find most challenging, and how they want to grow. Then, be an active listener and show them empathy during these meetings.
  2. Encourage job shadowing. Job shadowing isn’t only effective for potential job candidates. It can also be helpful for current employees so that they can view what life is like at many different levels of an organization. A growing number of employers are promoting take your coworker to workdays to improve engagement and create knowledge across company functions. It’s easy to start a program like this by asking employees to list a couple of different jobs they would like to shadow for a day.
  3. Assign formal mentors and coaches. Perhaps one of the best ways to develop talent is to assign formal mentors. However, be prudent when choosing mentors. Successful mentors will already have the requisite knowledge that enables them to teach new employees.  They should also be well versed in your work culture, honest, and have strong communication skills.
  4. Cross-train your employees. It’s essential to assume the next person-up strategy for those times when your key players are out of work due to vacation, retirement, or changing roles. Cross-training can be effective for building a team of employees with a working understanding across many different disciplines. Although it might cost you some short-term productivity, your organization will become more efficient in the long run.

The good news is that these talent development methods don’t require many resources or a significant investment, but they can still make a significant impact. Remember that most employees want to advance and there are many ways you can support them along the way. 


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Emotional Intelligence Can Make You A Better Business Leader

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Many different skills and traits can help someone become an exceptional business leader. However, one of the most important of these skills is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and positively control your emotions. Here are some ways that this ability can make you a better business leader.

Helps You Connect with People More Easily

Emotional intelligence allows you to manage your emotions when interacting with other people and helps you identify how others around you are feeling. Together, this enables you to connect with employees and colleagues more easily. If you can empathize with others and understand their emotions at any point in time, employees will connect with you. Over time, this will allow you to form close relationships with your team built on mutual trust and respect.

Helps You Adapt to Changes

Leaders with high emotional intelligence adapt to changes in the workplace faster than others. This is because people who are good at understanding and regulating their emotions have an easier time recognizing the positives that come with change and are more receptive to new thinking. In contrast, people with low emotional intelligence often fear change and become bogged down by what-ifs. We live in a world that changes rapidly, so adapting to change quickly is one of the most significant advantages you can have as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence Keeps You Humble

Emotional intelligence can help prevent you from becoming too arrogant and proud. If you stay humble as a leader, you are more likely to listen to your team members’ ideas with an open mind and treat them with respect. Employees want to work for humble and level-headed managers because they feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. Thus, open-minded leadership can help cultivate a safer work environment. High emotional intelligence will also make you more receptive to feedback, which can help you improve your leadership skills over time. 

Helps with Employee Retention

The quality of leadership that a company has plays a significant role in the employee experience. One of the top reasons that people quit jobs is because they don’t like their manager. It can help you become the kind of leader people want to work for. Emotional intelligence also helps you engage employees, improving team morale, employee motivation, and retention.

Emotional intelligence is one of the most critical business skills you can have as a leader. It allows you to communicate with others and foster healthy work relationships effectively. It also helps you regulate your emotions, so you react favorably to changes. Lastly, this skill helps you stay grounded and receptive to feedback, new ideas, and other people’s opinions.


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How Diverse Job Experience is an Asset

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People who have diverse job experience may feel like they don’t have as much to offer potential employers. However, the reality is that having a variety of experiences can be a massive asset for job seekers. The key is to frame your diverse background as an advantage instead of a setback. Here are some of the main reasons why diversity of experience can make you a better employee in executive support.

Companies Want Employees with Unique Ideas

Companies recognize that when they hire people with similar backgrounds, their team members end up all having the same approach to problem-solving. Instead, companies look for people with unique experiences who can bring fresh perspectives. When businesses speak about diversity, it is about more than just ethnicity, age, and gender. It is also about the experience. Show how the variety of job experience you have gives you a point of view no one else has. What is unique about how you solve problems, how you make decisions, and how you come up with new ideas?

Diversity Leads to Change 

Many companies may feel stuck in a rut, so they are looking to hire people who will help them change and grow. These companies will seek out candidates who have diverse work experience because they aren’t stuck in their ways. Candidates with diverse backgrounds are more adaptable and are more likely to have a growth mindset. As a job seeker, highlight how your experiences have made it easy for you to adapt to changes in work culture and how you have demonstrated a growth mindset throughout your career.

You Can Communicate More Flexibly 

If you have worked many different jobs, you have learned to communicate with a wide range of customers and professionals. Excellent communication is one of the most important skills you can have in the C-suite. Demonstrate to prospective employers how you have adapted your communication style to different audiences and scenarios during your career. Show employers that you can give their customers a better experience than anyone else.

You’ve Seen it All

People who have held many different jobs have experienced a wide variety of challenges and obstacles. This is one of the main reasons having a diverse background is such a huge asset. With your history, you are better prepared to handle setbacks and crises. You’re less likely to crack under pressure and more able to overcome challenges that come your way.

Professionals in C-level support who have diverse job experiences bring a lot to the table. These candidates often have a fresh approach to problem-solving, a growth mindset, excellent communication skills, and the ability to overcome various challenges. As a job seeker, you can leverage your diverse employment history by showing how your experiences can provide value to employers.


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