If you’ve moved into a new role where you are more visible and there’s a heap more expectation, here are four steps to help you navigate this new level. I call it acclimatizing for leaders. There’s always an adjustment period as we discover who we need to be and how we need to be in handling these new roles.
The first piece is looking at your identity. Who are you now that you’re in this role? And I don’t mean that as a challenge, it’s a serious question, who do you need to be in order to do this role well?
I think there’s a couple of things we can keep in mind. I think we just need to realize that we need to be brave and be comfortable with being visible. We are there because we have a custodianship and a responsibility to others in guiding them through whatever task, or project, or goal we have set as the leader for that business unit, or business itself.
The third element around identity is just to serve more. That takes us out of our own inner dialog about how useless we are or how not up to it we are, and gets us focused on others. When we’re serving others, all that ego stuff drops away. It also helps us, ironically, get the skills and attributes that we need in order to step into that identity.
The second piece is to really live in the skin of the leader that you need to be in that role. The only way to do that is to lead “as if.” Pretend you’ve already got it nailed. Look at others’ who have been in that role and how successful they’ve been, and work toward doing what they do. Acting “as if” goes a long way to getting used to being the leader you want to become.
New roles have new responsibilities. The first one is to honor new-found confidences. Often if we get a promotion, we become privy to new inside information we haven’t had before. We need to treat that with the utmost respect and confidentiality, otherwise we won’t be trusted in our new inner circle, and we won’t demonstrate that we have truly embraced what it means to be a leader. Some things we need to keep within circles for legal reasons, or for competitive reasons, and so on for the business.
The second part of responsibility is to build skills. We might need to practice, if we’re a new leader, giving feedback, receiving feedback, having difficult conversations. Maybe we need to practice delegating, that’s often a big one that new leaders struggle with. Practice, practice, practice. Get better with the fundamentals of the new role.
The third piece is to expand our scope in the responsibilities that we have. When we are elevated to new roles, all of a sudden there’s a new context in which we need to navigate, and often that means keeping in mind different aspects of what’s around us. The scope is pretty important, so look bigger and wider. That will help expand your leadership thinking and ability to contribute.
When we are elevated above our coworkers to being the boss, we can’t rely on that old social network for social support. We need a new social network of people who are already doing the roles that we have been put into. Within that community, seek support. Ask for advice and get a sounding board. You can learn from people have been in the role.
Zoë Routh is on a mission to encourage big thinkers with big hearts to make a big difference. She is passionate about showing leaders how to challenge limitations so they can live and lead with boundless energy, confidence and conviction. With over 30 years experience developing leaders, she has published three books: Composure: How Centered Leaders Make the Biggest Impact, Moments: Leadership when it matters most, and Loyalty: Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and create lifelong advocates, which you can purchase here.