Not all leadership transitions are planned. Sometimes circumstances conspire to put a person in a leadership role before they have had time to prepare.
Sometimes people are thrust into leadership roles and must adapt quickly.
This can be overwhelming for even highly qualified individuals who expected to eventually take leadership roles. Growing into a new leadership role takes time and effort, but there are steps anyone can take to help the process move forward. Here are six ways you can help yourself grow into a new leadership role.
1. Identify and Articulate Your “Why”
Identifying what motivates you in your new role is essential. What is the underlying reason behind your drive to excel? Once you know this, you will have a greater ability to face and overcome the obstacles that every leader must face. There may be days when you have to repeatedly remind yourself of your “why,” but doing so can give you the extra courage you need to push forward when you face challenges.
2. Think Beyond the Tactical to the Strategic
There is value in identifying and attending to immediate needs – the tasks that are at hand and apparent. But you should allow strategy to guide your decisions as well. As a leader, you are asked to take a bigger picture view than you were before. That means you must allow what will benefit the team and the company to guide your decisions and priorities.
3. Ask for, listen to, and Act on Feedback
It’s not easy to ask for feedback, but it is the most direct way to get from where you are to where you want to be. Feedback may come from people with more experience who are in senior positions to you, or it may come from colleagues or even from team members you now lead. Feedback helps you learn what your strengths are and where there are opportunities for improvement.
4. Invest in Personal Development
You may be a leader now, but you’re still a multidimensional human. Don’t forget what makes you “you”.
Leaders are human, and humans have multiple dimensions. Don’t neglect yourself as a person. Yes, your leadership role may require that you take classes or learn specific skills, but as a well-rounded, well-informed human, you must invest in yourself. Read great books. Practice the instrument you play. Give your community basketball team your best efforts. You’ll feel better about yourself and be better prepared to succeed as a leader.
5. Accept and Understand Your Flaws
Can you think of someone who appears to have no flaws? They do. And if they have gone anywhere in life worth going, they have had to accept and work on them. Knowing your flaws allows you to work on them and has the paradoxical effect of making it harder for others to use them against you. Being honest with yourself is a crucial ingredient in self-awareness, and self-awareness is a trait of every outstanding leader.
6. Don’t Settle for “Good Enough”
When you’re a leader, mediocrity isn’t good enough. What may have been acceptable as a front-line employee isn’t good enough for a leader. This does not mean you have to do things for which you’re not trained or take on tasks for which you are unqualified. It does mean, however, that everything you do, you must commit to giving it the time and attention it deserves. By not settling for “good enough,” you set an example for yourself and for your team members.
If you have access to leadership development programs, you should take advantage. Leadership development programs are designed to help current and future leaders elevate their skills and think strategically. And if you are offered leadership coaching, you can be confident that your organization has immense confidence in your ability to be an outstanding leader.
Leadership coaching isn’t designed to teach you how to lead, but to help you understand yourself (flaws, best characteristics, and all) and make the most of your gifts and talents, for the betterment of yourself and your organization. If you want to explore leadership further, I invite you to check out my books. And I also hope you will be on the lookout for my latest book, The Intelligent Leader, which comes out on October 15.