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Harv Bus Rev. 2002 Dec;80(12):80-7, 133.

The young and the clueless.

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Awareness Program for Executive Excellence, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.


It's natural to promote your best and brightest, especially when you think they may leave for greener pastures if you don't continually offer them new challenges and rewards. But promoting smart, ambitious young managers too quickly often robs them of the chance to develop the emotional competencies that come with time and experience--competencies like the ability to negotiate with peers, regulate emotions in times of crisis, and win support for change. Indeed, at some point in a manager's career--usually at the vice president level--raw talent and ambition become less important than the ability to influence and persuade, and that's the point at which the emotionally immature manager will lose his effectiveness. This article argues that delaying a promotion can sometimes be the best thing a senior executive can do for a junior manager. The inexperienced manager who is given time to develop his emotional competencies may be better prepared for the interpersonal demands of top-level leadership. The authors recommend that senior executives employ these strategies to help boost their protégés' people skills: sharpen the 360-degree feedback process, give managers cross-functional assignments to improve their negotiation skills, make the development of emotional competencies mandatory, make emotional competencies a performance measure, and encourage managers to develop informal learning partnerships with peers and mentors. Delaying a promotion can be difficult given the steadfast ambitions of many junior executives and the hectic pace of organizational life. It may mean going against the norm of promoting people almost exclusively on smarts and business results. It may also mean contending with the disappointment of an esteemed subordinate. But taking the time to build people's emotional competencies isn't an extravagance; it's critical to developing effective leaders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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