Jeff Belanger, Chief People Officer at real estate technology company Entera, can’t ignore the headlines: employee engagement is dwindling, employees are “quiet quitting” and some of the best leaders are exiting the workforce in a post-pandemic environment.
“We’ve reached a leadership crisis. Late-stage career workers are exiting the workforce taking a lot of critical knowledge and intellectual property around being a leader and those experiences with them. That lack of support leaves many new managers asking, ‘now what?’” said Belanger.
Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends, 94% of respondents believe leadership capabilities and effectiveness are important or very important to their organization’s success. Yet only 23% believe their organization’s leaders currently have the capabilities necessary to manage in a disrupted workplace.
As massive change continues, Belanger is helping his organization rapidly shift to a new leadership development model.
“How do we build an environment that’s supportive of emerging leaders – one that’s not just about training for skills or general learning experiences but instead is focused on growing managers into leaders?” adds Belanger.
Shifting from Subject Matter Expert to Leader
New managers, who likely have direct reports for the first time, face unique challenges as they transition from individual contributor to leader. They’ve spent much of their career as specialists or experts in their fields, but leading teams is an entirely different ballgame. For many, moving into this new role unprepared is a recipe for leadership failure and personal burnout.
The classic challenges for emerging leaders, such as resistance to taking direction from someone who was recently a peer, are already well understood, and coaching can help. Typically, leadership coaching teaches managers how to develop and grow their direct reports, helping them reach their full potential. It’s about building leaders who are also coaches.
Developing Emerging Leaders Amidst a Shift
A massive workplace shift, from hybrid models to changing expectations for work-life balance and personal health, is challenging the leadership status quo. Suddenly, fast growing companies such as Entera, which is revolutionizing how investors find, buy, and operate single-family homes, find that old methods of coaching are inadequate or ineffective.
As a Series A company, Entera’s leadership focus was to build a middle manager layer to help scale the company most effectively. As with many rapidly growing companies, leadership strength here is critical. These managers are learning to contribute to growth and grow staff at the same time. Thrusting them into these roles and asking them to navigate often complex hybrid work models, set goals and drive outcomes and then also develop their teams is a lot all at once.
Finding a New Leadership Compass
Partnering with AceUp enabled Entera to face the workplace shift and its myriad of challenges head on. AceUp’s approach to human-centered leadership is built for coaching in the moment, and the modern workplace requires a solution that is equally as agile and flexible.
The AceUp approach focused not just on “why” managers need to lead, but how they’re leading at Entera. Prioritizing the individual concerns and needs of emerging leaders was a natural starting place, but not the destination. Their north star was to create a leadership development approach where the challenges affecting Entera’s growth (including the new realities of the workplace) are reflected in individualized coaching experiences.
Entera’s implementation of the AceUp solution provided one-on-one coaching, supplemented with group coaching and all supported by tailored access to online resources and tools. This embedded more effective communication, collaboration, and resilience into manager-staff relationships.
“Our aim was to foster a coaching culture and make coaching accessible to our emerging leaders. This enabled us to democratize leadership development and equip our managers with new skills that they could impart to their teams,” said Belanger.
Measuring Data and Insights
As workplaces continue to evolve, employees require a new social contract. One where the individual feels as invested in the company’s mission as the company is invested in their role in achieving it. This is what defines human-centered leadership at its core.
At Entera, emerging leaders appreciate having a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and they also understand how leadership coaching impacts the organization as a whole.
“I very much enjoyed the AceUp’s emerging leaders’ program. The half-day kickoff in person was beneficial and provided a strong start. This was especially important with a primarily remote team like ours. It was a great way to bring us together and have a supportive coaching experience,” said Natalie Williams, an Entera Emerging Leader.
Beyond positive individual experiences, the program is already providing notable benefits enterprise wide. Analytics from AceUp’s leadership technology, which help quantify the impact of leadership development efforts, show a 17% increase in the time it takes to transition from subject matter expert to leader, a 15% increase in managers’ reported ability to regulate stress and build resiliency, and a 12% increase in their ability to manage conflicts and difficult conversations.
Today, the middle management layer at Entera is well on its way to becoming an engine for growth. This starts with human-centered leadership development, industry best coaches and a focus from the top on building a culture of innovation, collaboration, and resiliency.