In the last few posts, we’ve talked about leadership concepts and findings that resulted from the research of Dr. Richard Boyatzis.

I’m excited to say that today I had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Boyatzis! He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, including this one:

“What’s the best way to train a person who just got promoted to a leadership or management position?”

Here’s the challenge:

We all know that great individual contributors don’t necessarily make great managers and leaders. They may be subject matter experts (they can be great programmers for example), but leading people often requires a whole another set of skills.

Often times, the companies send newly promoted employees to training that lasts for a short period of time (2 - 3 days), and while this can be energizing and intellectually stimulating, once the employee returns to work, the change in environment makes him or her revert to the old ways pretty quickly, usually in a matter of days or weeks.

Is this the best thing we can do?

Another solution is coaching. Coaching in this context is usually done over the longer period of time, such as six months to a year, and this approach is more likely to produce a significant and enduring change in behavior.

Coaching is highly individualized and it’s probably the best way to go, but not every manager makes a great coach, and hiring external coaches can be expensive.

So is there any other option?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. The employees can form study groups that meet regularly and in those meetings, discuss challenges and things they learn. This encourages new managers who just finished training to ask questions, and in addition to answering those questions and sharing their experiences, other members can also provide support and ongoing dialogue which increases the chance that the desired changes will stick.