Karin’s Leadership Articles

Got Results? How to Succeed in Your Next Developmental Assignment

by | Sep 24, 2012 | By Karin Hurt, Career & Learning |

If you are a strong leader, with a proven track record of results and looking to advance, chances are you are going to be asked to take on a job you know nothing about. On paper, you will be completely unqualified. Welcome to the world of succession planning developmental assignments.

Much research has shown that the best way to prepare leaders for broader, more strategic responsibility is to move them into diverse roles and assignments. The Lessons of Experience, High Flyers, and The Leadership Pipeline,  all offer insights into why and how this works. Leaders who can produce results across a variety of organizational contexts become valuable utility players with broad perspectives on the business.

So, if you are asked to take on a job you know nothing about, that’s a good sign. Time to embrace that queasy feeling. Oh, and also get used to it great results in this role will likely lead to the next “how did I get here” challenge.

I have done a number of these assignments in my career and been around others doing the same. I have seen these assignments both catapult and derail careers. The bottom line, these jobs are about learning, but they are still big jobs with a strong expectation of results.

Tips for Achieving Results in a Developmental Assignment

  • Begin with confident humility
  • Discover who’s already leading the team and learn everything you can
  • Build great peer relationships
  • Admit what you don’t know
  • Involve everyone early in the game
  • Get to know your team one person at a time
  • Don’t change too much too fast
  • Ask lots of questions and then ask some more
  • Inspire transformation
  • Celebrate, recognize and give the credit to the team that did the work
  • Build results that last beyond your tenure
  • What would you add?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Jonathan

    I am stealing the phrase “Confident Humility” Great term and great timing for this article!

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Thanks, Jonathan for joining the conversation. You are a great example of confident humility.

  3. Steve Borek

    The only thing I could add would be try not to be emotionally attached to the outcome. Take the coach approach by putting the best people you can find in the right spots. Then let them run with it without micromanaging. Let go and let them be.

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much, Steve. Not emotionally attached…hmmm… tough…


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