For those who have led teams for a while and have learned effective leadership through experience or training (or both), you likely still recall your first leadership role and some of the challenges associated with becoming an effective leader.
The first time you lead others can be challenging simply because not everyone is automatically equipped with the knowledge and skills to be effective, especially if your entire career up to that point may have been built on roles as an individual contributor.
That first promotion to leading others is usually the result of having demonstrated strong competencies for the work, the ability to influence others and the desire to move into a leadership position. The desire to take on leadership and knowing what to focus on are keys to being an effective leader.
To be clear, becoming a leader should not be just about the title or the pay, it must be about the desire to influence and create outcomes through others and learning what it takes to make that happen.
Here are five priorities to consider in a new leadership role:
Ensure that you really want to be a leader
Before accepting a leadership position, you need to understand that it is no longer about you and what you want to focus on. It’s about the team and their success. After all, the team’s success is your success.
See yourself as a leader, not a manager
Leading and managing are two different things. Managing is about processes and things, while leadership is about relationships and outcomes. Giving directions or telling people what to do may be easy and seem like the fastest path to results; however, the risk is that the team becomes reliant on you for the answers or fearful of taking action on their own.
You want your team to grow them and increase their capacity. Don’t miss the opportunity to create an engaged team whose ideas are valued and who own their ideas, goals and results.
Make yourself available
As a leader, you may still have some of your own work to do, but you may have to set aside some of your work to make time for your team. Prioritizing your calendar and setting aside time to work collaboratively with your direct reports is imperative. The majority of your time should be focused on them so that you can fully address their needs and celebrate their successes.
Focus on the team’s development and growth
The only way you can grow is by growing your team. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you increase your team’s capacity by developing their ability to think, take action and deliver results through a sense of ownership, your ability to delegate is enhanced.
That means they are growing. From there, you can turn your attention to taking on more or different things through having increased your own capacity. Then you can reach up into that next level and demonstrate how you can operate effectively in some expanded way.
Develop your leadership skills
After choosing to lead, making yourself available and focusing on others, your real effectiveness is determined by how you go about leading. Effective goal setting, coaching for performance, creating accountability for results, providing meaningful feedback and operating with transparency and integrity are a few key attributes that can be honed and developed for your success. Read voraciously and attend a leadership development program, too. It will benefit you in the long term.
Transform your leaders
In today’s competitive landscape, leadership on every level is paramount. Are your leaders equipped to navigate the complexities you face? Are your leaders and business strategies in lockstep?
With Wipfli’s Leadership Essentials, they will be. Our program is meticulously crafted to transform supervisors from capable to exceptional. Our team connects leadership training to measurable outcomes, using validated assessments, action plans and reinforcement techniques. Learn more about Leadership Essentials.