One of the biggest and most difficult changes for any leader is the one from an individual contributor or professional (who does the work) to a manager who must continue to do the work, and more importantly, lead others doing their work.

It’s important for a leader’s long-term career to make that transition as quickly and successfully as possible. It’s also important for the success and sustainability of any organization.

Why? First-time managers make up the vast majority of the largest population of leaders in any organization—those at the entry- or first-levels of management. They directly lead a majority of people in organizations, as much as two-thirds of the workforce. They are the pipeline for future leadership positions in the organization. And, they represent the leadership bench strength of the organization.

Yet why is it that the largest population of leaders, the bench strength and pipeline of future leadership talent in organizations, are the ones who get the least amount of money and support in training and development dollars; less than C-level executives, less than middle-level managers, way less than high potentials who may not even be managing?

First-time managers may be doomed to failure from the start. And it shows: 1 out of every 2 managers in organizations is deemed a failure. That’s 50% of your future top talent.

Their failure may be the result of not being supported or given the opportunity for training and development early enough in their careers as leaders. First-time managers at entry- and first-level leadership positions have as much of a right for leadership development as others, but their voices so often go unheard.

Organizations take for granted the difficulty of transitioning into leadership, and this blind spot is costly. Not supporting and developing first-time managers is wasteful, impedes work, and damages relationships. Ultimately, leaders and the led become turned off to leadership.

But the solution is simple: Help first-time managers realize what it takes to make a successful transition into leadership. This paper is the first in a series of papers meant to help you understand what first-time managers are going through so that you can help, support, and develop them.

As front-line leaders at entry- or first-levels of leadership who manage individual contributors and professionals, first-time managers are so important to the success and future sustainability of your organization.


Support and develop first-time managers by:

  1. Introducing the cognitive mindset first-time managers must adopt, a spin on the “It’s not you—it’s me” excuse people often use with relationship break-ups or when someone is about to be dumped. First-time managers must adopt the mindset of “It’s not about me. It’s me and you.”
  2. Presenting research from CCL found that (a) the specific type of motivation for learning and development effective first-time managers have; and (b) the skill gaps first-time managers have in four specific leadership competencies:
    • Communication
    • Influence
    • Leading team achievement
    • Coaching and developing others
  3. Detailing how first-time managers can go about applying the “It’s not about me—it’s me and you.” mindset to successfully lead others.

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