News & Insight
March 2022

How to succeed in a new leadership position

You've been promoted to a new leadership position. Now what?

Getting promoted into a new leadership role is a great accomplishment, but it can be intimidating when you first start out, particularly if you have also moved to a new company to take that position.

The transition can be difficult no matter how much you prepare in advance. You may have been promoted based on your excellent individual performance. Excelling as an individual is a very different task than leading others. You can read all the books and have all the necessary tools at the ready, but on your first day on the job you’re probably going to feel confused, maybe even overwhelmed. You can’t know all the ins and outs right away, but you’ll learn from experience. It’s a learning process, but there are constructive steps you can take to keep the process on track and going in the right direction.

Adjust your expectations

Buying into certain myths can stunt your growth as a leader. Look out for these fallacies in your thinking:

  1. I’m the boss now. You may think that you can implement all your wonderful ideas now that you are in charge. The truth is your wishes will still be impeded at times by your peers in management, senior executives, outside vendors, or others who do not report to you. This will feel frustrating at first, but you’ll learn how to negotiate to get most of what you want when you can’t get it all.
  2. Because I said so. You do have authority, but it does not come solely from having a title after your name. It won’t come from a show of bravado that seeks to prove your technical knowledge, either. It will come from establishing credibility with those who report to you. Credibility and trust is earned by demonstrating character and competence, which gives you influence over your team members. If you’ve built credibility with them, they will follow your lead.
  3. I must keep everyone in line. You may think it’s now your job to order people around and micromanage their work activities, but don’t feel pressured to do those things. You’ll find that your best and brightest team members will not take well to that strategy. Lead in a way that encourages them to take initiative to suggest new ideas and shows that you trust them to do their jobs until they give you a reason to withdraw your trust.

You are not alone

They say it’s lonely at the top, but you don’t have to go through this transition alone. Your company has made an investment in you and your success benefits them. They have your back.

You may feel intimidated about asking for help from a superior, but about half of new leaders turn to their bosses for assistance. It doesn’t mean you are incompetent; it means you are smart enough to ask questions.

Many companies use executive coaches to help onboard new leaders. They have many useful ideas to ease the adjustment into a new role and/or a new company. Holding a Team Assimilation Meeting with you and your team is a great way to ensure a successful tenure. It can accelerate the process of developing a working relationship with your team by clarifying your vision, objectives, and direction, as well as your expectations and requirements for team members, and importantly, them for you.

Here's the usual procedure for this type of meeting:

  1. Team selects set of questions with executive out of the room
  2. Executive returns to address team’s insights, perspectives and answer any outstanding questions
  3. Joint review and discussion of results
  4. Joint planning on goals and actionable items

Starting out with an open dialogue opens the lines of communication from the outset and shows your staff that their input is valued.

Executive Coaching provides help in many areas, including the following:

  • Learning about the organization, including its culture and politics
  • Understanding expectations of the role
  • Developing effective communication approaches
  • Gaining insights into business unit processes and practices
  • Effective knowledge transfer
  • Recognizing common pitfalls and developing action plans to avoid or mitigate these risks
  • Developing high quality relationships with management, peers and subordinates
  • Establishing targets for “early wins”

You’ve got this!

If you’re a newly promoted leader, congratulations on your achievement. You’ve already shown yourself to be a cut above the rest, so go into your new position with confidence. Many before you have successfully trod this path, and you can do the same.

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