Recognize risks to nurture emerging leaders, CPO researchers write

December 21, 2020

Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty associates Susan J. Ashford and Scott DeRue co-authored the Harvard Business Review article “Why Capable People Are Reluctant to Lead.”

The article examines new research into why promising employees fail to assume leadership opportunities and suggests strategies managers can use to nurture emerging leaders.

Based on their research, Ashford, DeRue and their co-authors identify three kinds of risk that deter people from leading: risk to interpersonal relationships, image risk and the risk of being blamed for failure.

“By recognizing the risks that potential leaders face and managing their perceptions of those risks, organizations can nurture leadership contributions from more people in more places — ultimately supporting both the organizations’ own growth and that of their people,” the researchers write.

Ashford is the Michael & Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan.
DeRue is the Edward J. Frey Dean of Business and Stephen M. Ross Professor of Business at the University of Michigan.