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Exactly what knowledge do you lose up the ladder?

This month is focused on more global leadership issues versus a specific way to delegate or communicate, and this one may surprise you. We often expect Leaders to know it all and that very fact can get in the way of a leader’s confidence – even IF they’re a Contagious Leader! But, the truth seems contrary to our expectations in that for most leaders, the farther up they go, the LESS they know. Why is that and is that the ideal scenario?

Why Does Knowledge Diminish Up the Ladder?

Ask any front line employee who does the job day after day if their boss or boss’s boss knows what they do and most of the time the answer will be “no” with a little laugh at the end. But, and this is an important interjection, when we talk about knowledge diminishing up the ladder, we’re speaking of the skills to DO the job, NOT the skills to lead those who do the job. It should come as no surprise that when an employee is promoted into management and no longer does the task they excelled in, for which they earned the promotion, that their skill level would diminish over time. Things change and retention wans. What happens instead is that new manager is learning how to lead. He or she is learning how to transition from an employee to a boss, from a peer to a person with a title and until they learn to do that with the same proficiency they had in the old role, it will appear as if IQ point deductions came with the new nametag.

Is the Loss of Knowledge Ideal?

The simple answer is yes. If a newly promoted manager, at any level, attempts to continue to do the role, the performance of which earned them the promotion, after they have been put in their new job, they are taking time away from learning how to lead at that next level. Essentially they are performing two diametrically opposed jobs at once and both will suffer. But, if they let go of the old role, immerse themselves in the new one and make learning that new position the priority, knowledge of the new skills required to lead will happen faster than one might think.

Anytime we learn something new – a new skill, a new piece of knowledge, or a new behavior, we literally have to develop a new “groove” in our brain, a new pathway for messages to pass through, in order for this skill or applied knowledge or behavior to become automatic, much less proficient in demonstration. This is why participants from class will often perform more slowly in the immediate time after the class. They are practicing and shortly after a practice period, productivity elevates. Be mindful of the need for new leaders to let go of the old role and also help them understand that the initial weeks of a new promotion didn’t come with a skill or intelligence vacuum. They are learning and that takes times and soon, ideally speaking, they’ll be as good in their new leadership role as they were on those front lines.

Stay contagious!

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