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Can you change your leadership role without changing your title?

By Erik Korsvik Østergaard, 10. June 2021

Managers often go through invisible leadership transitions. This means there are additions to the nature or scope of their leadership role without any changes in their official positions. How do managers experience these challenges? What factors are significant to this experience? And what lessons can executives and organizations draw from these stories to better manage such passages? 

MIT Sloan surveyed 396 managers between April and July 2020 to understand this. Some interesting things were found:

“There are three main reasons why invisible transitions are more challenging than formal ones: a lack of authority, difficulties in communicating effectively, and insufficient opportunities for self-improvement.” 


“Women (…) lacked the external support from their companies and the informal influence necessary to marshal people and resources to support their leadership initiatives.” 


“Men, on the other hand, said they found it especially difficult to manage invisible leadership transitions that were dictated by external (not self-initiated) changes that required them to learn new skills and competencies.” 

Change management is hard! Transparency and openness are some of the keys: “Organizations and their HR teams need to do a better job proactively looking for these changes and recognizing new responsibilities.” 

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