Top Tips for Newly Appointed Leaders
Congratulations on your new role
Whether you have been recruited externally or promoted from within, a new leadership role can be lonely and daunting. These tips will keep you on track, to remind you of those things you already know, and maybe some things you don’t.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails” Anon.
In the first few months of a new role, it’s fair to say that your confidence levels are going to fluctuate from day to day. The key is to develop a strategy where you can tap into a healthy level of confidence when the need arises. Find a picture, a phrase or piece of music that reminds you of a time when you felt at your most confident and bring it to mind whenever you need it.
Determine who you need to build relationships with quickly. This will include your boss, some key team members, your peers and/or certain clients.
Make sure you have regular meetings with those on your list in the first few months, build rapport, find out what is important to them, and manage their expectations.
It can be tempting to stay relatively quiet in the first few months while you find your feet, assess how the new culture, new team and new role works. Making an impact means that you need to be visible, gathering information, sharing your thoughts and ideas. Although you don’t want to wear your heart on your sleeve, the more open you are, the more open others will be with you, and you will build up trust more easily.
Encourage your team to go the extra mile, work towards gaining commitment from everyone to strive for common goals. You will want to set goals that benefit the organisation, the team and the individual. How will you get your team on board? What will motivate them to engage with your vision? When you begin to understand what drives those around you, you will get their commitment and engagement. Celebrate and acknowledge achievements with your team.
Take every opportunity to network, make connections, and raise your profile.
You don’t need to be the life and soul of the party, just be visible, build rapport with those around you, ask questions, be genuinely curious and listen carefully to find out what makes others tick. The more you take an interest in others, the more they will want to know about you. And the more they will want to help you in your new role.
It’s better to find out sooner rather than later what is expected of you, and share what you expect of others. As you move into a management /leadership role, direction from above will be less and less. You will be expected to be creative, set the direction and make decisions. Your new team will be waiting for your vision and want to know how they fit in. Make sure it’s well thought out, and communicated clearly.
You will be judged in your new role from day one, therefore it’s important during your first 100 days to set yourself and your team some stretching goals that will deliver some quick wins. This means that you will have achieved some results by the end of your first three months. What is your success being measured on? What goals do you need to set in order to set the pace, give you credibility and give you and your team confidence?
To be an authentic leader you first must understand what your leadership values are. What’s important to you in your role as a leader? Authentic leaders are genuine, they follow through and act in accordance with their values. Self awareness is important, particularly in acknowledging your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Do you have the courage to say what you really think? Can you admit to making a poor decision? Are you open to others’ views and opinions?
As a new leader you will want to ensure your new team are empowered and motivated to maximise the productivity of your department, and achieve results. Leading with a coaching style will enable you to utilise each member’s strengths, help raise their self awareness and give them a sense of responsibility. Listen, question and listen again. Encourage your team to think for themselves, to come up with their own solutions.
You will be on a steep learning curve for these first few months, therefore it is important to keep your energy levels and attention span at the optimum. Remember to get enough sleep, take lunch breaks, eat healthily, leave the office at a reasonable time and make time for exercise. This is a good time to set your boundaries and let those around you see how you will be working to maintain good health.
How you influence those around you will depend more on your actions than on your words. Treat others as you want to be treated, listen with respect, be open to the views of others, act in accordance with your values, and follow through with action. Remember that your new colleagues will be watching you and judging you during these crucial early days.
No such thing as Failure
Things don’t always go according to plan. Mistakes happen, poor decisions are made. Before you get out the big stick to beat yourself up, or feel the temptation to blame someone else, it’s ok to put your hand up and accept responsibility. There’s no such thing as failure, it’s just feedback. You didn’t get the result you wanted. Review what happened, learn from the situation and decide what you will do differently next time.
A new role can be all consuming and there will always be the temptation to take work home, work late, pick up & send emails in the evenings and at weekends. How you manage your workload, and free time, in the early days will be setting the expectations of those around you. It may be harder to change in six months time. Consider what boundaries you need to put in place now. Who do you need to communicate this to?
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