Take charge from the start

On our LinkedIn group page, we asked our followers what they would like to see us cover in this leadership blog. One follower stated this question, “What do people entering into a leadership role have to look out for?”

Interesting question, and we’re going to take the approach of how one should prepare for their internal leader transition, along with how to hit the ground running once their new position starts.

Going from manager to upper executive is obviously a big change. Generally speaking, a manager’s job is to organize and delegate, while a leader focuses on inspiring and motivating the workers.

So, if you received a promotion, you already have gained the trust and respect of your superiors. Now for the hard part – making sure your direct reports trust your decisions as a leader. After all, just because you gained a leadership role doesn’t guarantee people will consider you a leader. It is up to you to ensure people take you seriously as a leader, which means your transition to leadership begins as soon as you find out about your promotion, not day one of your new role.

According to Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, the actions you take on your first three months in a new job will largely determine if you succeed or fail.

No pressure, right?

How you plan for your new role, and the tone you set on your first day will create your foundation as a leader.

Here are some points to remember:

Listen and learn

Gain familiarity with the core functions, systems, and processes of your organization. Determine how each function and core process adds value to the organization. Know who to call in each function when you need information. When making plans, be flexible, and be prepared to change your action plans if internal or external factors alter the company’s strategic direction. Focus attention on the areas where you’ll get the most leverage.

Establish effective communication

Recognize that timing is important. Your message might be the right one, but it won’t be well received if it is delivered at the wrong time. Before delivering your message ask yourself: “How will others feel if I say that?” Keep the adage, “Actions speak louder than words” in mind. Actions should always be consistent with what you say you believe.

Build new working relationships

Effective relationships are vital to the success of a leader. Proactively meeting with people and explaining your ideas and initiatives can help you bring people on board at the beginning, instead of trying to turn around the “freight train” of opinion once it’s moving. Identify, build, or create areas of common ground with others. This will reduce your need to fall back on position power in order to accomplish your goals.

Encourage new ideas

Leaders must generate ideas for change and recognize and use the good ideas generated by others. Leaders also stimulate others to think in innovative ways. Inspire others with your ideas and enthusiasm – let others know you will hear them out and will consider suggestions when you make a decision.

Cycling back to the LinkedIn question – what does one have to look out for in a new leadership role? Well, be prepared to deal with uncertainty and additional responsibility. This comes along with any new role but it is heighten in a leadership position. You’ll need to demonstrate your value, along with being aware that people will question your decisions.

No one said making the move from manager to leader would be easy, (and if they did, they are delusional), but with the right preparation and attitude it can be a smooth transition.

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