Much is written about leadership once you are in the role of leader. But what about preparation for this role including the period of uncertainty during the transition from an individual contributor to leader?
In my opinion, new leaders are not prepared for the stress caused in making the transition from individual contributor to a people leadership role. I have found that there are four practical ways to manage yourself through a transition while at the same time maximizing your contribution as a new leader.
- Analyze the environment
- What is going on in the immediate and wider organizational system that impacts my team and me?
- How engaged is the team I am leading?
- What is their motivation level?
- What are their expectations of me?
- What other teams/groups do we need to communicate with? What are their expectations?
- Create a plan by using the above information and answering the following questions:
- What is my vision for the new role?
- How does this match with my boss’s vision?
- What are my boss’s expectations of me in my role?
- What do I want to learn?
- What do I need to learn to be successful?
- Who do I know who has already done this successfully?
- Experiment and Test
- Apply what you learn from your conversations and experiments
Once you’ve completed your analysis and come up with your plan, test your conclusions and ideas with your peers, direct reports and boss. Try something new, or express an idea of your own proactively soliciting feedback from others. Listen and don’t judge the answers! Say “thank you”!
Once you’ve completed your plan and tested it with others, adjust the plan and move ahead. Often people wait until the plan is perfect – don’t! Make it a living document by applying what you have learned.
Remember that transitions are full of uncertainty which is a major cause of stress in the workplace. One of the best ways to lead others is to manage your own uncertainty with a roadmap you create by applying these 4 tips and communicating to others where you are headed! Repeat this cycle periodically so you manage the uncertainty in organizational life and solidify your role as leader.