Talk to the individual you promoted and find out what challenges they are facing. I would almost bet the biggest one will be that they’re having a hard time getting their team to do the work like it needs to be done. This all comes down to leadership training, and this individual has to learn two skills. One, how to communicate with his team, and two, how to delegate effectively. Those are skills YOU can teach this person, which would be my recommendation to deal with the immediate challenges. Then make sure that individual is getting regular leadership training AND coaching or mentoring by you or another leader in the organization.
After you get the immediate challenge addressed, look around your organization and team at other recent promotions you’ve made. Assess if there’s another leadership incompetence issue, and repeat the prior step to make sure all of your leaders are getting what they need. And once you get that dealt with, you can then start looking at prevention.
I think the best way to prevent leadership incompetence is to make it a habit of giving your people at all levels opportunities to grow as leaders on a regular basis. Leadership training shouldn’t happen only when someone is promoted. The best leadership training is to give your team members opportunities to lead, and then be there to coach and mentor them as they do so. Even small things like leading a meeting, or teaching them how to lead themselves through a challenge, are all opportunities for your team to learn to lead – take advantage of it.
Other Ways to Prevent Leadership Incompetence
Another thing you can do to prevent this issue is by TALKING about leadership – your own mistakes and successes. It makes leadership tangible to your team, especially if you label your action as a leadership action. Sometimes leadership is a nebulous concept to people One of the best ways to make leadership tangible is to label actions as leadership actions. Both yours and your team members’ actions. This provides clarity around what leadership actually looks like, and it will help your team build confidence in their own leadership skills because they’re already doing it – they just need it labeled as such!
There are other ways you can make sure leadership incompetence doesn’t become an issue – training, assessments, mentoring and coaching – but those two specific steps I mentioned are actions you can take to prevent it that go beyond the usual advice of training.
People do get promoted to the level of incompetence, but I think it’s more than that. I think they get promoted to their level of leadership and management incompetence. Those are two skills that aren’t innate – they are learned. And the best way to learn them is to practice them before you need them.
Your job, as a leader, is to make sure your future leaders get ample opportunity to practice leadership before they’re officially in a leading role. If you do that, you’ll not only be a leader that they would follow anywhere; you will have coached and mentored several other leaders to become the same!