Why Capable People Are Reluctant to Lead

All too often, promising employees fail to step up when leadership opportunities arise. What is it that holds so many people back? The authors describe new research that sheds light on three of the most common perceived risks that are associated with leadership: the risk to your interpersonal relationships, the risk to your image, and the risk of being blamed for failure. They go on to suggest several tactical strategies for managers looking to nurture leadership at all levels, including going the extra mile to identify and support your most risk-sensitive employees, proactively addressing interpersonal disagreements before they escalate into uncomfortable conflicts, and finding low-stakes opportunities for people to try out leadership. Ultimately, empowering people to lead starts with acknowledging — and mitigating — the reasons they may be hesitant to step up.