Interrupt the Ascent


  1. a climb or walk to the summit of a mountain or hill.
  2. an instance of rising through the air.
My colleagues at Definity Partners ( in Cincinnati, Ohio, are preparing to launch a series called “What’s Next?”  This series will facilitate the sharing of best progressive practices in area organizations.  Company leaders will gather to hear about trends, share their ideas and network with other regional thought leaders.

I have the pleasure of being one of the presenters, and I will address:

 “Creating a Contagious Culture for Growth.”

One idea I’ll present reflects on the work of  Bunker, Kram & Ting; (Harvard Business Review, December 2002).  Their research warns cultural leaders to “Interrupt the Ascent” when considering promotions. 

In short, if we promote individuals based solely on their tactical skills, we may find these new leaders are unable to demonstrate the interpersonal competencies that are needed for high performance teams. 

Tactical performance does not necessarily indicate one’s ability to: 

Listen to understand

Influence and motivate

Offer effective feedback

Manage difficult conversations

Delegate effectively or

Manage conflict situations.

In fact, a new manager or supervisor may struggle to give up his or her old role. They may return to that which is most comfortable and familiar and adopt the attitude of, “I’ll just do it. That way, I’ll know it’s done right.” The result  is time spent in firefighting rather than in strategy and growth. (See Run Improve Grow, Your Roadmap from Firefighting to Bold Business Growth by Ray Attiyah.) 

So, organizational leaders need to pay attention to their practices. Are people automatically promoted within their areas of expertise? Are they relying on their new rank to get results instead of having the skills to influence people?

Supervisors need emotional competency in order to build high performance teams. Take the time and offer the resources to develop rising supervisors. The extra effort will be worth it!

This entry was posted in Culture, Leadership, Talent. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>