Taking the first steps into any profession is an exciting transition, and that’s certainly true when you’re starting out in leadership. You’ve worked hard to advance in your career, and in turn you’ve been rewarded with a leadership position.
But in a sense, that’s where you stop. Where you served yourself when you were working to advance your career, now as a leader you’re called to serve others. In my coaching I’ve seen many new leaders struggle because they were making their leadership about them, their new role and their power. Here’s my advice for steering clear of that trap and making sure your first days in leadership for a foundation for lifelong success:
Avoid power trips. Remember that you are where you are for a reason, and that reason is not you. You’re here to make the lives of other people better, so forgo the power trips and give everyone a reason to turn up every day and work hard. Don’t show what you can do; show that you care.
Stay visible and accessible. Don’t hide behind closed doors working on new strategies and procedures. Don’t eliminate all the existing processes and destroy old systems—at least not right away. Walk around, get to know people and give them a chance to know you. Ask questions and listen. In the process you’ll learn new things, you’ll better understand your most important resource—your people—and you’ll let them know how much you value them.
Increase your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to discriminate between emotions, label them accurately and understand them. Using emotional intelligence to guide your thinking and behavior can greatly benefit anyone in leadership. Every workplace, especially during times of transition, experiences times when emotions run high. And your response in those moments—whether you bring chaos or calm—makes a big difference in the success of your team and your leadership.
Manage up; lead down and across. New leaders understandably tend to focus on leading their direct reports. But it’s at least as important to manage up (the board, senior leadership, investors) and lead laterally (your peers, your own leadership team). Keep your leadership visible from every direction.
Balance confidence with humility. Leadership is tougher than many people realize. While you have every right to feel confident—after all, you reached the position you’re holding for a reason— don’t fool yourself: Leadership isn’t supposed to be easy, and if you show some humility it will go a long way.
There will be plenty of time to set strategies, change work charts, hand out new roles and provide new goals. but first you must do the things that will earn you the respect you need in your role as a leader. And that comes from serving, not from being served.
Lead from within: New leaders always have an opportunity to start out well—they just need to follow the advice of those who have already become great leaders.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.