I’ve worked with many new leaders in all types of industries and one thing is for sure- making mistakes and learning how to dust ourselves off is essential. It’s kind of like learning to ride a bike for the first time. We are so excited to master the skill and ride our bike through the streets. Yet, to get to that point of success, we need to learn how to steer, brake and fall a lot. Those of us who can endure the scrapes and bruises, will be well prepared and able to handle the bigger skirmishes. So are you ready to get up on that seat, put on that helmet and learn the rules of the leadership ride?
Here are five ways to begin a new leadership role:
1. Be Clear on the New Position
Before beginning any new role, it is important to have a crystal clear understanding of that role. That means:
- Review the job description if it exists
- Set up a meeting with your new boss to get their perspective on your responsibilities
- Talk to your new team members because they will have the real scoop
- If something feels uncomfortable about the new position, try to readjust the issue before it gets out of hand
- Look in the mirror and say out loud: “I am ready and I know I can handle this exciting new step.”
2. Take Stock in Your Strenghts
Taking a look inside of us can be worth the effort in honestly identifying what we bring to this new role. Ask yourself:
What do people ask me to help them with?
What type of responsibilities do I most enjoy?
Where in my career so far have I really shined?
Which of my expertise and talents will really come in handy in this new position?
Where do I still want to grow?
The answers will provide a road map of how to tackle this new opportunity so that you can both share your gifts and grow your leadership.
3. Identify a Trusted Network
We all know that it is impossible to “go it” alone and that means we each need to locate a group of colleagues to become our trusted advisors. Look around at work. Look around in your personal life. Look around in your volunteer world. Who are the individuals we count on for support and valuable feedback?
Whose opinions do you value and know that they will have your back? Then ask them to be part of your special council.
4. Bone up on Your Communication Skills
This is one thing that may not seem so obvious to new leaders but can be a deal breaker early on. Being open and direct while respectful of other’s points of view empowers leaders to be heard and impactful. You may have strong technical skills, but leading involves being able to share your ideas in an effective way.
- Focus on active listening without interrupting
- Use non-judgmental and inclusive language (Substitute “BUT” with “AND”)
- If someone says something you disagree with, say “I disagree” rather than “You are wrong”
- Match your body language and facial expressions with the words coming out of your mouth
- Honor cultural differences
5. Reach Out for Input and History
Any time I started a new position, I would take time to learn what was currently happening and why. Having an historical perspective can be invaluable in mapping out the future. Also, team members want to feel that their past work is important to the future steps. Interview everyone that works on the team and ask them what they think is going well and what they might change. You might be surprised with their suggestions.
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