How to Manage ‘Invisible Transitions’ in Leadership | MIT Sloan Management Review

Leadership & Culture

Leaders increasingly make “invisible transitions”—where they take on new tasks, responsibilities, and obligations without changes in their job title, description, or authority. And according to this article, invisible transitions are more challenging to navigate than formal leadership transitions, such as vertical transitions (promotions to a higher rank), lateral transitions (moving to a different part of the business), and geographic transitions (moving to a different country or market). Three reasons invisible transitions are more complex include 1) a lack of authority, 2) difficulties in communicating effectively, and 3) insufficient opportunities for self-improvement. While these transitions are challenging for everyone, men and women experience them differently. Women cite a lack of informal influence necessary to marshal people and resources to support their leadership initiatives. Men find it difficult to manage these transitions when they are driven by external factors (vs. self-initiated) that require them to learn new skills (e.g., the pandemic required leaders to virtually engage team members quickly.) Suggestions are offered for navigating invisible transitions.

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