As a Team Leader, There is a High Chance Of Failure

As a Team Leader, There is a High Chance Of Failure

Are you a team leader, thinking of becoming one or have promoted someone into a team leader role?

You are, then you should definitely read further.

Reading Time – 3.5 mins

It Doesn’t Look Good for You

  • According to the CEB (Gartner Company) 60% of new managers underperform in the first 2 years of their new role. Other studies suggest between 40% – 60%.
  • A Ken Blanchard Company study of 400 new managers found that there seems to be a correlation with over 60% of them receiving no support either from coaching, mentoring or training.
  • A DDI study of newly promoted managers found another correlation where 60% learn through trial and error and 42% had no clear idea of what was expected of them and what success would look like.

But Why?

From my experience, the top 3 reasons why team leaders underperform are –

1. Lack of Support

Senior managers find it hard to find the required time or may not have the necessary skills to coach and mentor their team leaders.

As a senior leader recently quoted to me,

We promote people into new roles, let them get on with it and tell them to let us know if they need help. But how do they know what they need help with if they have never done it before?

2. Assessment

Teams leaders are sometimes selected on their technical ability or their strong client relationships rather than their leadership capability.

Team leaders can also be promoted before they are ready.

3. Personal Motivation – Why I want to be a team leader?

Motivation for wanting to become a team leader is sometimes seen as the only way to get a corporate title promotion.

The best technologists are often made leaders – but they are not always the best leaders.

What Support Do You Need as a Team Leader?

From coaching and mentoring many team leaders, the following areas of help are needed –

  • Communication skills
  • Transition to role as a team leader
  • Interpersonal skills
  • How to set goals
  • Directing Others
  • Managing Conflict
  • Delegation
  • Performance management
  • HR policies

Other than these skills above, team leaders also need help with –

  • Definition of success in their role
  • Dealing with the possibility of failure
  • Exposure & visibility to higher levels of management
  • Demanding work load and hours
  • Increased job complexity
  • Navigating politics
  • Expanded responsibility
  • New peer dynamics

Where to Get Help

The companies I have worked for offer some excellent training, but from the research I have done from speaking to clients, a combination of training and coaching are the most effective for your success.


  • “Training helped me understand a bit about me, but it was not specific to my areas of need as it catered for everyone”
  • “Gave me the general principles and processes to think about”
  • “Good intentions, but hard to remember to put it into practice”


  • “Tailor made to me rather than generic. Gave me an accountability partner to keep me on track.”
  • “Helped me build on the training and tailor it to my situation as well as react to changing circumstances”
  • “As it was personal, it was easier to buy in to rather than just go through the motions in training”
  • “It was independent and confidential meaning I could talk without worrying about politics, enabling me to be much more open than I ever would be in a training session”

So, What’s Next?

If you are thinking of becoming a team leader then ensure you motivation for wanting to become a team leader aligns with the role. Start building up the necessary skills required so you have a good chance of hitting the road running when you get promoted.

If you are a team leader then speak to your manager and get the support you need to be successful in your exciting, but challenging role.

If you are still not getting the help you need, try and find an internal senior mentor or book a 30-minute call with me and I will see if I can give some guidance –


Here’s what Tom had to say after working with me after being promoted into a new team leader role –

Nick has been regularly coaching me for the last year and I have gained a huge amount of knowledge and confidence from the process. I had recently moved into a new unfamiliar role, which included leading a multi-location team and was looking for ways to grow into the role and give myself every opportunity to succeed. Nick’s sessions have become something I genuinely look forward to as I fully expect to learn something new and useful in every session. Sometimes it’s a large paradigm shift where I really have to examine a belief or process, other times it’s a seemingly tiny change in behaviour that reaps large rewards.

Nick has a wealth of experience and is able to offer real life examples for a huge variety of topics. This alongside the techniques and exercises that he introduced me to have enabled me to grow not just within my role but also as a person. He has helped me to identify my strengths but most importantly my weaknesses and helped me to challenge those behaviours. Nick is very careful not to project his own solutions on to you but allows you to highlight an area to work on and guide you towards possible resolutions, plans or techniques that may help. I’ve often found that I’ve known how to address the issue all along, I’ve just needed a good nudge in the right direction.

Personally, the year has been a huge success, ending with a promotion that I had been targeting. The feedback from management as part of the promotion process highlighted my leadership skills which was the key area on which Nick and I worked. I would wholeheartedly recommend Nick to anyone who is looking to challenge and improve themselves whilst staying true to who they want to be.