Linda A. Hill has been in the business of teaching leadership for some time now, but she’s managed to keep her ideas and techniques fresh. As the chair of Harvard Business School’s Leadership Initiative she is better placed than most to speak on the ins-and-outs of managing talent and leadership development. CCL Client Solutions recently read her book Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership.
The book looks at the experiences of 19 first-year managers and what CCL Client Solutions learnt from it was that much of how people learn to do their job comes from experience. It isn’t something that a university degree can teach you, real life situations are far more valuable learning tools than any lecture you can sit through.
Hill believes that learning how to lead is a process of learning and unlearning. For example if you’re a really successful salesperson you’ve got to unlearn those skills to some extent in order to create the space to think as someone who manages lots of salespeople. In a recent interview with Inc.com she said, “It’s actually about a transformation of your professional identity. It’s a very deep kind of learning – a different mindset, a different set of values.”
In her book she also talks about the burden of being an entrepreneur. She argues that when you’re the founder of something it can be a challenge to get the help and assistance that you need to grow rapidly. What CCL Client Solutions found most interesting about this section of her book was that she talked not only about the rights and privileges of leadership but also about the duties and obligations.
CCL Client Solutions believes that the idea of unlearning something to learn something new is a novel one. A spokesperson for the company argued “While Hill makes a compelling case we still feel that keeping in touch with the skills that you learn working your way through a company are essential to understanding the team you will be leading as a manager. Of course there are new things to learn but past experience is also essential.”
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