Protecting new leaders from the harsh realities of their role

When you appoint a new leader in your organisation do you leave them exposed to the ravages of the organisation or do you provide them with some shelter from the more extreme elements? It’s not unlike young plants being sheltered from the elements by a larger tree. It certainly helps them get established but you do need to be careful you don’t provide too much shelter or they may not be able to survive without it. Worse still, they may not be able to grow at all if a tree is completely blocking their access to sunlight.

Have you ever seen a young leader provided with too much shelter from the less pleasant parts of organisational life with the result that they fail to grow as a leader and can’t function without someone to constantly watch over them? So what kind of things am I talking about? Well, it could be:

  • In fighting between sections
  • Personality clashes between leaders
  • Unresolved issues
  • Politicking for limited resources
  • Difficult decisions that need to be made
  • Legal matters

Getting the right balance between shelter and exposure is difficult, but necessary. You can’t really call yourself a leader until you’ve had to deal with the more challenging aspects of your role. We all know that the true test of someone’s character is how they react under trying circumstances. You could say it’s a bit like a tree that can survive a difficult growth season, one involving a drought or a flood. It will go on to be stronger for it and therefore more able to grow to its full potential and help shelter other smaller plants in the future. So don’t stunt the growth of your leaders. Gradually expose them to the tougher aspects of the role and you will benefit from the results.

Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is a frontline leadership expert who helps organisations grow their frontline leaders so they performer better, which improves team productivity, giving senior leaders peace of mind. To learn all about her range of programs and coaching services visit To book her to speak at your next event visit

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