Major stresses and strains after being promoted to a leadership role

DDI, the human resources consultancy, surveyed 600 executives and professionals around the world. Nearly 60 percent of them rate the anxiety and stress of the transition to a new leadership role as second only to the trauma of divorce or marital separation. My thoughts turned to the psychological burdens on the newly-promoted general counsel.

One of the biggest of four challenges, according to an article in Fin. Times, April 25, 2007, at 10, is the new leader’s learning different ways of thinking. Among other adjustments, a general counsel has to take a broad view, emphasize fairness, become a role model, and listen (See my post of Feb. 1, 2006 about the chilling effect of a general counsel’s comments.).

A second challenge is learning how to deal with people from the new elevation (See my posts of April 16, 2007 about passed-over lawyers; Jan. 18, 2007 about fear by general counsel of usurpation; and Oct. 10, 2005 on internal competition.). Third, political interference overtakes workload as a new cause of stress for promoted managers. In blunt terms, the knives get sharper in the C-suite. Finally managers are no longer able to get their hands around the entire job; they have to rely on colleagues and reports (See my post of April 17, 2007 on delegation of contracts to the right level.).

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