Last Friday, a new president moved into the White House. Today, you might be starting your new management job. Whether you’re managing a team or leading a country, making a transition into a leadership role can be a bit of a challenge. If you want to start off on the right foot, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Be prepared for a little awkwardness at first.
Leadership transitions are always a little awkward. People get used to things being a certain way, and when things change, it can be a challenging for some people initially. Not everyone will know how to respond to the change, and some people will flat out be against you.
Understand that you will make mistakes.
You’re human. You’re going to make mistakes. As long as you own up to them and don’t make the same mistakes over and over again, you’ll be fine. Don’t blame others, don’t point fingers, and don’t make excuses. Own up to the mistake, learn from it, and move on.
Realize that people won’t always agree with you.
Your decisions won’t always be popular, but as long as you’ve done your due diligence, analyzed the situation, and believe what you’re doing is the best thing for the team, company, and so on, that’s all you can do.
In order to be an effective leader, you have to be accessible. People need to feel comfortable talking with you and providing feedback. Make a genuine effort to get to know people, understand their goals and interests, and be friendly. And don’t be afraid to own your weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. Being transparent can help you gain trust and respect from your team. You don’t have to be feared in order to be influential.
Don’t boss your team around, support them.
Good leaders coach others and find ways to support them so they can do their jobs better. Leaders encourage growth, ideas, and feedback. They listen to their team and support them where they need help. They don’t stifle their growth by putting them down. Instead of saying, “That’s wrong, fix it,” try saying something like, “I think we can do better. How can I help?”
Don’t be a know-it-all.
Just because you’re in a higher-level position than everyone else now doesn’t mean you should act like a know-it-all. In fact, please don’t, because you know what? You don’t know it all. You likely have some great knowledge, but you don’t know everything. And acting like you do is going to foster resentment for you among your team.
Learn as much as you can as quickly as you can.
In order to support your team, you need to have the knowledge, resources, and tools to do so. That’s why it’s critical to ask questions, get to know each person’s function and capability, and teach yourself how to do things on your own. Your company might not offer leadership training or have the resources to educate you in certain areas. There’s a certain amount of stuff you’re expected to learn on your own. Be proactive.
Respect others and they will respect you.
Even if you don’t agree with an idea, opinion, or action, it’s critical to be respectful. If you respect others, they will respect you. And, when you’re making a transition into a leadership role, earning that respect from your team is critical.
Inspire, don’t discourage.
Great leaders inspire others to be better and do better. Talk to your team, learn about them, understand what gets them fired up, and find ways to inspire them.
Treat people like you’d like to be treated.
You weren’t always in this position. Think back to when you worked under someone else’s leadership. What would you have done differently? Why? What did you love about their leadership style and what did you hate? Why? Treat your team like you would want to be treated. When some people get into a position of power, they let it go to their heads and they forget what it’s like being on the other side of the table.
Believe in yourself (or no one else will).
Yes, making a transition into a leadership role for the first time can be nerve-wracking. You’re going to feel a little insecure and unconfident in your ability to lead. However, it’s important to remember that you were chosen for this role for a reason. It’s going to take work, but you have what it takes to be a strong leader. Plus, if you don’t believe in your ability to do a good job, why should your team? Think about your skills and experience, and figure out how you can use them to your advantage. Remember your champions – the people who believe in you. You can do this!