Why Half of New Leaders Fail and What First-Time Managers, and Their Organizations, Can Do About It

August 2016 —

Becoming a boss for the first time is challenging —and many new leaders don’t succeed.

In fact, research shows that just 50% of all managers are considered effective.

From making significant psychological and emotional shifts to walking the tightrope between being respected by superiors and the individuals they now manage, how can a new generation of leaders navigate the transition to first-time boss more successfully?

It all starts with flipping their script, or adjusting the vantage point, from being “me-focused” to “we-focused,” according to William Gentry, Ph.D., Director of Leadership Insights and Analytics and a Senior Research Scientist at CCL.

In his new book, Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders, Gentry offers practical, actionable, and evidence-based advice for first-time managers, drawing from his own leadership experiences, extensive research, and work with clients.

“Nearly 60% of new leaders do not receive any training after being promoted to their first management position, so it’s no wonder that only half of leaders are considered effective,” said Gentry.

“As individuals, our personal scripts tend to be heavily focused on impressing others and getting recognition. This ‘me-focused’ script may have served us well as employees striving to stand out from the crowd, but being a leader of others requires a new script that shines the spotlight on your teammates, organization, and stakeholders.”

In Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, released Monday, August 29 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Gentry provides a 6-step plan to help new managers “flip their script:”

  1. Flip Your Mindset – Gentry’s research at CCL shows that the most successful new managers were the ones who flipped their mindset from being motivated by external rewards, to being motivated to learn for the sake of enjoyment and excitement.
  2. Flip Your Skill Set – As a leader of people, influence and verbal and nonverbal communication skills —including empathy — take top priority, as opposed to technical job-related skills.
  3. Flip Your Relationships – According to Gentry’s research on nearly 300 new leaders, shifting from the role as a “BFF” to “boss” was the most frequently described challenge.
  4. Flip Your “Do It All” Attitude – The boss everyone wants to work for is someone who takes time to develop others by providing them with challenging assignments and growth opportunities, and sees value in providing both career-related and skill-based mentorship.
  5. Flip Your Perspective – New leaders must widen their perspective to understand the big picture, be aware of organizational politics at play — and become flexible enough to navigate these dynamics.
  6. Flip Your Focus – Character and integrity are vital for all leaders’ success; in fact, top leaders whose direct reports ranked them high in integrity tended to also have high performance ratings.

“For smart, practical guidance on becoming a boss, there’s no better authority than William Gentry,” said CCL President and CEO John R. Ryan. “His insights are grounded in first-rate research and the realities of organizational life — and refined by his own experiences as an up-and-coming leader.”

Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For has received accolades from recognized luminaries in organizational and leadership development.

“Using a unique combination of research, straight-talk, and humor, Gentry brings to light all of the barriers that keep new leaders from succeeding (including the ones we don’t talk about), and offers clear-cut, actionable strategies to face those barriers head-on to become ‘the boss everyone wants to work for’,” said Brené Brown Ph.D., LMSW, author of New York Times #1 bestsellers, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong.

“It’s clear that Gentry has a deep understanding of what it takes to develop strong leaders. This book has become required reading in my organization.”

CCL and Gentry will also host a webinar on the “Insider’s Guide to be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For” on October 11.

The book is available online and in print in CCL’s online bookstore, on Amazon, Google Books, Barnes and Noble and other major outlets.

About Bill Gentry

William A. (Bill) Gentry, Ph.D., is Director of Leadership Insights and Analytics and a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in Greensboro, NC. He also trains the Assessment Certification Workshop and Maximizing Your Leadership Potential programs at CCL and has been an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities, currently at Guilford College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In applying his research into practice, Dr. Gentry’s current focus is on helping new leaders who are managing for the first time in their lives, particularly those on the frontlines in entry- and first-level positions in organizations. Dr. Gentry has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles on leadership and organizational psychology. His work has been featured in more than 50 Internet and newspaper outlets, including Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Forbes.com, and Chief Learning Officer.

Follow Dr. Gentry on Twitter (@Lead_Better) and use #BeTheBossBook to take part in the conversation online about first-time managers and new leaders.





About the Center for Creative Leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) is a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development. By leveraging the power of leadership to drive results that matter most to clients, CCL transforms individual leaders, teams, organizations, and society. Our array of cutting-edge solutions is steeped in extensive research and experience gained from working with hundreds of thousands of leaders at all levels. Ranked among the world’s top providers of executive education, CCL has locations in countries worldwide.

Stephen Martin
Center for Creative Leadership
+1 336 286 4038

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