Climbing Corporate More Stressful Than Divorce

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<p><strong>Pittsburgh &mdash; May 15</strong><br />Leadership promotions rank first among life&#39;s most stressful events, according to Development Dimensions<br />International&#39;s (DDI) Leadership Transitions Study, which surveyed domestic and foreign leaders on leadership challenges in the workplace.<br /><br />The study was conducted by DDI, a global human resources consulting firm, in late 2006 and explores the challenges that people face when transitioning into leadership roles, from the initial foray into a supervisory role and finally into an executive position.&nbsp; </p><p>Four hundred global leaders and 385 U.S. leaders in front-line, operational and strategic roles participated in the survey.<br /><br />&quot;Being promoted into a supervisory or corporate management role is more than a simple next step &mdash; it requires a personal transformation and a self-awareness not required at more junior levels,&quot; Matt Paese, DDI vice president of succession management said. &quot;The biggest mistake that a leader can make is to isolate themselves and try to figure it out alone instead of relying on the network of people around them.&quot;<br /><br />Some of the top findings from the research include:<br /></p><ul><li><strong>Good news! Bad news. You&#39;re promoted.</strong></li></ul><p>When given the opportunity to rate life challenges in order of difficulty, 19 percent of all U.S. leaders rated being promoted as the No. 1 greatest challenge, superceding personal stressors such as&nbsp; coping with bereavement, divorce and relocation. </p><p>At face value, getting a promotion should be an occasion worth celebrating, but many challenges arise with a new title and role that makes leaders think twice about seeing this as purely positive news.<br /><br />&quot;Most leaders feel like they&#39;re parked in a crossroads between their professional and personal lives,&quot; Paese said. &quot;The challenges of their jobs aren&#39;t left at the door to the office elevator but permeate nearly every part of their life.&quot;<br /><br />Does this mean that leadership has to be a negative change? Almost half said it has had a positive effect on their personal life, and 36 percent of U.S. leaders said it didn&#39;t change anything. </p><p>But as employees move farther up the corporate ladder, they are far more likely to report an impact on their life, given the intense time and professional commitment required at the top echelon of today&#39;s business world.<br /></p><ul><li><strong>Watercooler politics.</strong></li></ul><p>Although more than two-thirds of U.S. leaders rated office politics as a very difficult part of their job, U.S. women are far more confident then their male peers in navigating it. Nearly a quarter of male respondents said they were not effectively overcoming this obstacle in their new role. </p><p>What does this really mean? While jobs shift, so do the relationships that leaders need to get things done. With new peer groups and new expectations, leaders need to find ways to overcome a different host of challenges.<br /><br />When asked about the skills for the next level of leadership, twice as many U.S. men as women chose networking skills as pivotal, with inverted results for business acumen.<br /></p><ul><li><strong>You&#39;re on your own.</strong></li></ul><p>Leaders don&#39;t think they&#39;re getting the formal support they need from their organizations &mdash; 40 percent of U.S. leaders said their company provides little to no support during a leadership transition. </p><p>It can be a lonely road, where leaders feel they&#39;re walking solo, so who do they turn to in a time of upheaval? If there is no one to lean on, is there a risk leaders will feel alienatedand will decide to rely solely on themselves?<br /><br />One leader said: &quot;Being in the middle, I&#39;ve realized that to get higher, you need someone higher than you supporting you. It&#39;s not as much making your way up from the bottom as having someone pull you up from the top.&quot;<br /><br />U.S. leaders primarily looked to the people at arms length. Strategic leaders turn to colleagues and peers first for support, and first-line leaders chose their boss as their go-to person. HR, who should be the expected outlet for support, was low on the list for everyone. </p><p>This contrasted with global leaders, who selected friends and family as the No. 1 choice, followed by external advisers.<br /></p><ul><li><strong>For love or for money?</strong></li></ul><p>Leaders aren&#39;t shy about what makes them tick &mdash; money and the ability to make things happen were the top choices for U.S. leaders in what brings them satisfaction from their jobs. </p><p>Leaders younger than 35 selected money with much greater gusto than other age group, with U.S. leaders ranking money a significantly higher priority than their global counterparts.<br /><br />And although women selected monetary rewards more frequently than men, they were also more likely than their male counterparts to want to be a leader to build self-esteem and gain respect from their peers.<br /><br />&quot;Women are reminding us that they&#39;re still behind in compensation and workplace respect,&quot; Paese said. &quot;For men, because they aren&#39;t behind, they report that promotion is about a greater sense of accomplishment.&quot;<br /></p><ul><li><strong>Worldly attitudes.</strong></li></ul><p>U.S. leaders are less concerned about international experience than their global peers. Although global study participants selected intercultural sensitivity and international experience as two of the most helpful elements in making a transition, these same skills landed at the bottom of the list of what U.S. leaders considered helpful, with the exception of strategic leaders, who placed greater value on global experiences. </p><p>Only 4 percent of U.S. leaders selected global acumen as one of the skills or personal qualities they thought would make their transition more successful.<br /><br />&quot;All of this suggests that too often, domestic leaders still see themselves at the center of the business universe, which is dangerous, considering that nearly every business today trades in the global marketplace,&quot; Paese said.<br /></p><ul><li><strong>You can&#39;t take it with you.</strong></li></ul><p>Although most people are clamoring for the perks that come with promotion, 82 percent found something from their previous job they missed.</p><p>Leaders at all levels said less stress was their No. 1 choice. Personal time rated high for both operational and people leaders, and strategic leaders said being more hands-on and having a closer relationship with colleagues were fond memories of their previous roles.<br /><br />&quot;Promotion means finding new ways of being successful &mdash; and walking away from the old ways that defined success,&quot; Paese said. &quot;A leader who tries to be the same leader across all levels is not going to be successful at all.&quot;</p>

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