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Take me to your unstressed leader

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When it comes to stress, career transitions are rated next to divorce according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Development Dimensions International.

Career transitions – the point where leaders are promoted from one level to the next – are rated as very or extremely challenging by 59 per cent of leaders.

Office politics is another major challenge facing leaders, with almost half of top-level leaders stating they feel unable to address it within their organisation and around a quarter saying it is the toughest challenge to overcome.

Key findings from the research are:


  • 65 per cent of men say that their last promotion had a positive effect on their personal life compared to 49 per cent of female leaders

  • 43 per cent of senior level leaders said that external advisors, mentors or coaches play the most significant role in successful career transitions

  • 47 per cent of leaders regard the respect of their colleagues as being one of the greatest rewards of promotion

  • One in three leaders says that their company provides little or very poor support to them in making the mental shift required for each new transition

  • Twice the number of 45-54 year olds compared to the under 35s agree that substantial support is needed for the mental shift associated with each leadership transition

  • 79 per cent of strategic leaders recognise that formal training plays an important part in leaders’ success.


Vanessa Robinson, CIPD’s organisation and resourcing adviser said: “Leaders should encourage frequent, consistent and clear communications to eliminate any ambiguity, uncertainty and politics. Otherwise senior teams risk being riven by disagreement and shifting alliances, and operating in a way which rewards political manipulation.

“A leader does not operate in isolation. Support from colleagues and the organisation are essential if a leader is to be successful. Our research shows that coaches and external advisors play the most significant role in leadership transitions with 43 per cent of senior level leaders citing their contribution.

“Providing training and equipping leaders with the right resources and development tools are essential. Leaders need to understand that their new role requires different ways of thinking and a ‘mental shift’.”

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