New research has revealed the optimum length of time for executives to stay in each role on the career ladder, which can accelerate the speed of developing leaders by 25 to 30 per cent.
In her new book ‘Accelerated Leadership Development – How to Turn Your Top Talent Into Leaders’, published this week (Kogan Page), business psychologist Dr Ines Wichert found that at junior level the ideal tenure in a role is 12 – 18 months, at mid-management level two to three years and at senior management level, three to five years.
The first ever study of accelerated leadership development from an organisational and an individual perspective, shows that on average the time taken to develop an employee from graduate to C-Suite is 20 years, and from graduate to senior executive level is 12 years. If four key factors are in place this can be reduced to 14 and eight and a half years respectively.
The four key factors are:
• the accelerated leader must have the right raw material: intellect, drive and being an agile learner
• access to the right roles
• access to the right support network
• being spotted and fostered as talent early
The study found that at each level high-potential employees needed to stay in their role long enough to experience the impact of their own decisions and learn from them before moving to the next challenge.
“Moving to a new role faster than every two years may increase the risk of burnout and if a high-potential employee moves to a new employer too often, doubts may be raised about their grit and how easy it is to work with them,” said Dr Wichert.
Conversely staying in a role for too long will also raise red flags. “When I hire people and see that a candidate is a serial butterfly, then I am careful. However, a few short stints don’t bother me. Long stints bother me more; if you are too comfortable you don’t push yourself and you don’t perform,” offered Rachel Gray, sales director at Experian.
The study also highlighted the need for high-potential employees to gain breadth of experience across seven key areas: international assignments, large-scale change management roles, developing or setting up something from scratch, managing people, operational roles, P&L responsibility and turnaround roles.
“High-potential employees can only progress at increased speed if they manage to pick up this necessary breadth of experience as efficiently as possible. They must move across functions and learn how to deal with a myriad business challenges before they are ready to take on the reigns of an organisation,” added Dr Wichert.