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MAY 31 2018

Are You Giving Your Frontline Leaders a Step-Up to Success?

Growing demands for greater productivity, more innovation, and doing more with less, have made leading at the frontline as challenging—or even more challenging—as ever. 

According to a blog post by Rich Wellin of DDI, "What we found in Be Better Than Average: The State of Frontline Leadership is that organizations are doing an average job of not only developing their frontline leaders, but also of selecting and promoting those leaders in the first place. Some of the key findings include:

  • One in four organizations report a loss in profit due to frontline leader failure.
  • Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents indicated poor frontline leadership resulted in turnover of leaders themselves or their team members.
  • Even more respondents reported a loss of productivity (65 percent) and loss of team member engagement (69 percent).
  • Only 18 percent of respondents felt they had a supply of capable employees to fill frontline leadership roles."

How you develop your frontline leaders matters. Most surveys report that the majority of new managers are blindsided by their jobs. Even worse, many are expected to learn their new roles by trial and error. And weak frontline leaders have a significant impact on any organization.

Putting (or keeping) mediocre people in your frontline positions can result in high turnover both in leaders and team members, an overall lack of engagement, significantly lower productivity and lower profitability.

You can give your potential new managers a step-up to leadership success. According to Wellin:

"Interpersonal skills were the number one reason why frontline leaders are failing. It is very telling that no other reason was even close as a cause for failure in frontline leaders. Interpersonal skills truly are the foundation for any other leadership skills of importance. You cannot coach without being able to listen or maintain someone’s self-esteem. You also cannot build a team’s trust without the ability to appropriately share thoughts, feelings, and the rationale behind decisions. Organizations have to help leaders build a strong foundation in these skills—they use them in every interaction they have with their team, with their managers, and with their coworkers. And using these skills will truly separate the average from the exceptional."

Prepare your frontline for the changes associated with their new roles. Help them develop the skills and techniques necessary for leading others and motivating their performance with a program targeted specifically to emerging leaders, such as the Step-Up to Leading Others workshop from Executive Forum.

More Thoughts on Diversity from Tom Verghese

In our previous issue, we shared an article from Dr. Tom Verghese, author of The Cultural Synergist blog. Known for his work on Cultural Diversity, one of his readers asked Dr. Tom to respond to the question, "What are the barriers to Diversity and Inclusion?"

Dr. Tom's response:

Diversity and Inclusion is a journey that an organization embarks on. Some of the barriers they face include:

  • Failure to clarify to employees how diversity fits in with its mission and values. How does attention to diversity help us be a successful organization?
  • The view that leaders hold all the knowledge and always have the answers. This attitude implies that others within the organization have little to contribute.
  • Negative evaluations of employees who ask for help or raise problems.
  • Systemic discrimination including the exclusion of those who do not fit the norm from leadership positions and other promotions.
  • Parochialism which means viewing the world solely through one’s own eyes and perspective.
  • Conscious and unconscious bias.

As Tom has observed, breaking down barriers is long-term journey that requires both strategic and tactical responses.


We're pleased to introduce Executive Forum team member, Matt Ernster. Matt is a Leadership Ambassador and is ready to answer any questions you may have regarding our programs and our approach to leadership development. Matt is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the professional training & coaching industry.

Everyone communicates, few connect. Matt is a connector and visionary skilled in building relationships via training, coaching and public speaking. We hope you'll give him a call at 503.206.8369.


Step-Up to Leading Others
June 15, 29 and July 20

Give frontline leaders key insights and specific skills to strengthen their leadership capabilities and create a more engaged workforce. (21.75 HRCI/SHRM credits)

Knowledge Transfer Workshop
August 2 and 3

Introduces the tools and processes for effective knowledge transfer – to cross-train individuals or teams, get new hires up to speed quickly and efficiently and meet succession needs as employees prepare for retirement. (6 HRCI/SHRM credits)