Study Identifies Leadership Success Factors for Women

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Study Identifies Leadership Success Factors for Women

ERC’s Preferred Partner, CareerCurve engaged in a research initiative featuring interviews with 108 female senior leaders across the U.S. to identify the factors executive women consider critical to their success and accomplishments.

Factors identified through Career Curve’s study include:

  • Women earn their way to the top.
  • Women must be intentional about building and communicating their value.
  • Women should identify and enlist sponsors and mentors.
  • Women need to seek assignments and promotion to positions that have profit-and-loss responsibilities.
  • Women must stay invested in personal and career growth initiatives.
  • Family life is managed versus balanced for successful female leaders.

The study’s findings not only summarize the financial and economic impact of women’s leadership in the workplace, but also provide a number of insights on key actions that women can take to attain top leadership roles.

Additionally, the study recommends several factors to consider when establishing leadership development training programs for women.

Leadership Development Training Programs

Leadership Development Training

ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.

Train Your Employees

Checklist to Select Employees for Promotions & Leadership Training

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leadership training select employees

Whether you are determining who to promote at the end of the year or creating a leadership development/training program or strategy, the most critical task is selecting the right employees. Your organization wants to be sure that it trains, develops, and promotes employees that are the most likely to succeed in leadership roles. We’ve developed a short checklist you can use to select employees for promotions or participation in a leadership development program.

1. Are they a top performer?

Participants in your leadership development program should be your top performers. If employees can’t perform well in their current role, they likely won’t perform well at the next level. That being said, know the attributes and characteristics of your top performers throughout the organization and at every level.

Understanding what defines a top performer at the entry, mid, manager, and leadership levels will help make selecting the right employees that much easier.

Keep in mind, however, that just because the individual may be a top performer, doesn’t automatically mean they have potential for a leadership position.

2. Do they have potential…and for what?

Next you should ask yourself if this employee has potential for a position besides their current role and for what specifically. There are several different types of potential and classifying employees into different levels of potential helps determine the level of potential the employee has – such as the ability to move laterally, one level up, or multiple levels up.

It also helps prioritize who your organization should develop, into what roles, and the promotions for which they should be considered. Consider these levels as an example:

  • No potential: The employee performs well in their current role, but does not have potential to move laterally or upward.
  • Lateral potential: The employee is able to move into other positions at same level.
  • Potential: The employee could be promoted within 2-3 years to the next level, such as a manager or supervisor.
  • High potential: The employee could be promoted within less than 1 year or make multiple moves upward in the next 5 years. The employee has the level of potential to be promoted at least two levels beyond their current level to a leadership or top management role.

3. Do they have the requisite knowledge and ability?

In order to create a leadership development program, you need to determine what employees already know. Make a list of the required knowledge and abilities. Evaluate employees’ education level, training history, experience, and job knowledge as well as the knowledge requirements of the role for which they are being considered.

Compare the abilities they have already demonstrated on the job and the abilities they need to perform in a different or higher role in the organization.

If employees have too many knowledge and ability gaps, they may not be the right candidates for leadership development unless they have tremendous learning agility.

4. Do they have the desire and ability to learn?

Ideal candidates for leadership development show an openness to learn and change their behavior over time. They also are able to receive constructive feedback and coaching and use it to grow their skills.

They seek opportunities to develop their knowledge and abilities, often without being encouraged or told to do so and use challenges and setbacks as learning tools.

Finally, they have the capacity to learn concepts quickly, fit those concepts together, and apply them to their work.

5. Are their motives and interests aligned?

Not all employees want higher positions. Some of your top performers may have already reached their potential and are satisfied with their current positions and achievements. Likewise, some employees may want to advance their career for the wrong reasons.

Those that desire merely status, authority, and more compensation generally don’t have the right motives for leadership, whereas those that seek to develop others and serve the mission of the organization may be better candidates. Be mindful of both employees’ motives and interests when selecting them for leadership development.

6. Are they well-respected by others and considered team-players?

Consider how respected and liked the employees are within the organization by their coworkers, supervisor, and other individuals.

Employees need not be everyone’s best-friend, but they must be individuals that can develop positive relationships with other employees and are team-players that others respect and trust. If they aren’t, they may have difficulties in a future leadership role when relationship building and maintenance is crucial to their success.

7. Do they have courage?

Lastly, the best employees for promotions and leadership development have courage – to take risks, think outside the box, overcome obstacles, and challenge their fellow employees to push and develop themselves. These employees have a “do whatever it takes” mindset and are committed to taking the organization to new levels.

By not spending adequate time evaluating your candidates for promotions or leadership development initiatives at least by these basic criteria, you may be wasting resources on the wrong people. Before your organization decides to send your employee to leadership development or promote them to a new role, be sure to use this checklist.

Leadership Development Training Programs

Leadership Development Training

ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.

Train Your Employees

5 Common Types of New Leaders

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5 Common Types of New Leaders

Some employees aspiring to be managers or leaders struggle at first when they take on these new roles. Here are 5 common types of employees that grapple with management and leadership responsibilities, and suggestions for how to help them in their roles.

1. The high-achiever

Characteristics:

This is a leader who excelled at their previous roles, but is fearful of taking on more responsibility outside of their comfort zone. Their anxiety about performance tends to get in the way of their effectiveness, especially in leadership roles.

They can tend to get too caught up in tasks, believe that nobody can do the job as well as them, fail to distinguish between urgent and less important priorities, obsess about how they compare to others, take few risks, and starve themselves of personal growth into new areas because of their fears of failing.

While their style may have been effective in previous roles, when they move into management or leadership roles, they find themselves frustrated, unable to produce, and under-confident in their new jobs.

How to develop:

Unfortunately, this individual will need to experience failure and adversity to grow, even though it may be a difficult experience for them. That’s part of being a leader.

They should be challenged to grow personally, even if just incrementally over time. Expose this employee to new things gradually—not all at once.

Help them develop strategies to attain high performance in their new role because achievement is important to these employees. Praise them as they grow in their new role and have small successes. This will help develop confidence that they can perform well as a leader.

2. The technical expert

Characteristics:

This individual has solid technical strengths for which they were promoted into a management leadership role, perhaps in mathematics, IT, or engineering.

The technical expert, however, over-relies on their technical skills (often because they enjoy using these skills) which are less important in their new role.

Their technical strengths are so strong, that they may lack soft-skills or view them as less important to leading others than technical competencies. They tend to struggle with communicating, developing and training employees, and delivering results through others. While they are well-respected for their technical competence and are a rich resource of knowledge, they tend to struggle with imparting this knowledge on others that they manage or lead. They also may have trouble building a team and achieving the same results through others.

How to develop:

This individual may need to weaned off their technical tasks gradually. Having them let go of all of their technical responsibilities too quickly may lead to disengagement in their new role.

Help them share technical knowledge with their staff, through knowledge sharing tools, processes, and interactions (such as mentoring, training, etc.).

Knowledge and expertise may be so engrained in these employees that you will have to explore tasks thoroughly. Lastly, spend more time training them on soft skills, especially communication, team-building, and engaging others.

3. The overconfident manager

Characteristics:

These employees may be less receptive to learning how to lead, thinking that they know “all there is to know” about leadership. They may have even already had some management or leadership experience, and are usually charismatic, out-going, and dominant, but their confidence tends to get in the way of their success.

Frequently, over-confidence may lead these types of employees to exert too much command and control, be too bossy, and focus less on participation and collaboration with their teams.

They tend to like to receive credit for their team’s accomplishments, but may push blame for failures on others. They may try to gain influence by using their title or status, and not by engaging others. They like holding power and authority, sometimes to a fault, which can lead to micromanagement.

How to develop:

This individual benefits from successful role models who display appropriate leadership behaviors, such as senior leaders. Usually their approach to leadership stems from how they’ve been managed in the past or inaccurate perceptions of how leaders should act, so showing them other ways of leading can be helpful—especially if it’s a prominent person in the organization whom they respect.

Experiential learning and training is also crucial for these employees, who often need to see the negative results of their actions and behaviors. Employee feedback (such as an employee survey or 360) may also help the leader understand how their actions affect the engagement and perceptions of their staff.

4. The friend

Characteristics:

This is a leader that is congenial, well-liked, and has above average soft-skills. They are extremely supportive of their employees and approach management interactions more like coworker relationships. This individual refrains from having tough or crucial conversations with their employees and fails to acknowledge or manage conflict, frequently avoiding it altogether.

They often don’t manage performance well, and put up with poor results to maintain a positive relationship. In essence, they focus on being their employees’ friend, rather than their manager or leader. 

In fact, some of these leaders may be managing previous coworkers or friends of theirs. They may even engage in behaviors that are considered unprofessional for a leader, such as participating in informal social activities, becoming Facebook friends with their subordinates, or gossiping about other employees.

How to develop:

This individual doesn’t necessarily need training in soft skills, but does need training on core management principles, such as performance management, feedback, and conflict management.

These will be uncomfortable topics for this individual that you may need to address multiple times.

They may also need to be coached on how to balance creating supportive relationships and interactions with their employees with results and getting the job done.  Some will also need to better understand the role of the leader and how to act professionally with their employees.

5. The inexperienced

Characteristics:

Perhaps this is a young employee, a “high potential,” or an individual with no experience supervising or managing others. It’s not that this employee is a bad leader per say, they just don’t have the knowledge, skill, or experience yet to lead. Usually these types of leaders are promoted into leadership roles by necessity or because they have exceptional talents and potential that the organization finds valuable. If promoted before well-groomed, expect these employees to make mistakes—and lots of them.

How to develop:

This individual should usually be developed into a leadership role over time, rather than promoted and then trained. They may benefit from not only management and leadership development programs and curriculum, but also mentorship.

Through mentoring relationships with other leaders and managers, these individuals will learn from those that have plenty of experience managing and leading others, which can balance out their experience gaps.

These individuals will need on-going development as they grow into leaders—not just an initial training program.

Whether your current or aspiring leader is a high-achiever, technical expert, overconfident manager, friend, inexperienced, or a combination of any of these, learn to recognize the challenges your employees face in new management and leadership roles and provide them support to not only help them be more successful, but also enjoy their new roles.

Leadership Development Training Programs

Leadership Development Training

ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.

Train Your Employees

4 Ways to Develop and Retain Leaders

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4 Ways to Develop and Retain Leaders

Do you have some people in your organization who you might label as “high potential” or perhaps an “emerging leader”? If so, what are you doing to develop and retain those employees? If the answer is “nothing” or you’re not sure what you can or should do, here are a few ideas to consider.

Assess Your Talent.

So your gut tells you that the new college grad that’s been interning for the last year who just accepted your offer to come on full time could be on the fast track to a very successful career. Before you sign her up for every leadership course in town or name her the successor to your CEO, you may want to consider assessing her leadership skills or at least getting some kind of a baseline in terms of her personality, skills, and abilities that you can compare against some benchmarks to see if your gut matches up with actual data. This can help you help your emerging leader understand what her strengths and weaknesses are, how she “ranks” compared to other leaders in your organization or based on whatever benchmarks you use, and can help set a nice baseline on which you can build an individual development plan to help her move forward on that fast track to success.

Assign a Mentor.

The benefits of mentorship programs are well documented, and the benefits to an individual you have labeled as a high potential leader are equally as, if not more, attractive. It’s not only a great way to enhance the development of an employee and more quickly get him familiar with how the organization works and how to make things happen, it can also be a wonderful retention tool.

Invest in Your Talent.

Just because you put seeds in the ground doesn’t mean your garden will grow. It takes a lot of time, care, and feeding to make sure the roots take hold and the flowers blossom. The same is true for your emerging leaders. Just because you’ve identified them as having a lot of potential for growth doesn’t mean they’re going to get there on their own. It takes an ongoing investment of time, training, and resources to make sure their roots take hold in your organization and their leadership skills blossom in the future.

Let Them Know.

Maybe. Depending on the culture of your organization and the maturity of those you’ve identified as high potentials, you may want to consider letting them know you think they have potential. On one hand it can be a great confidence booster and great way to increase the chances you’ll retain that person. On the other hand, if he or she already possesses a great deal of confidence (and doesn’t hesitate to let everyone else know about it) then you may want to take a different approach.


The bottom line is that when you have identified talent that you believe will help your organization long term, it makes a lot of sense to invest some time and thought into how you can increase the probability that talent develops in a positive way and that person stays with your organization for the long term.

Emerging Leader Training Series

Emerging Leader Training Series

Have the emerging leaders within your organization been identified? Do they have the skills and knowledge needed to best represent your organization? In this 3-part series, participants will learn tools to present themselves more effectively and enhance their contribution to the organization.

Learn More about Emerging Leader Training