Setting Yourself Up For Success As A Leader
Its a Friday evening and you look at your watch and decide that you are done for the day. You feel equally glad that the week is up and that you have some time to rest and catch up on some chores. Yet at the back of your mind, you dread coming back here on Monday. Things are going to be different then. You applied for a leadership position in your department partly because you wanted added responsibilities and of course the added money and partly because you just wanted to know that the company wanted their employees to grow. It was a test for both you and them and both of you passed with flying colours. Now, you need to come in on Monday and be a leader to the people who just today told you the most wildly inappropriate joke over lunch. You cringe at the thought of having to tell your friends to cut that kind of talk out in the office. It then dawns on you that they might just cut you out of the social group too. The truth is that while you did secure the promotion, you have not been prepared for life as a leader. When you walk into the office on Monday, you still have the same skills, mindset and personality as you did when you left on Friday. The only thing that has changed is that now you have additional responsibilities. The reality is that more often than not, people are promoted into leadership positions and not given the training or guidance on how to be an effective leader. This is especially true when the people who you are supposed to lead were previously your equals. You feel stuck. On one hand, you don’t want to ask your manager for help as you do not want them to second guess their decision to promote you. On the other hand, going at this with zero support is a surefire recipe for failure. As you pick up your stuff and head to the elevator, you think to yourself “if only I knew where to start, I can figure the rest of it out”. You enter the elevator and let out a sigh, even the elevator is empty. “I guess I really am all alone on this one”.
The scenario above is one that many a leader has felt over when embarking on the journey of leadership. Some are lucky and have a senior leader playing the role of a mentor but this is rare and even if a mentor is available, the mentor might not be able to help you through all the firsts that you will be experiencing. To ease this transition and to provide you with a modicum of support on your leadership journey, DiCoRm presents a few steps that you could take to set your leadership up for success.
Set Clear Expectations
First of all, you need to accept that expectations are a two-way street. Traditional leaders would tell you that the expectations of a leader are not to affect their team member’s pay or leave. However, there is so much more to it than that. Start off with a team meeting as early as you can, ideally on the first day and instead of doing the talking, start off by listening. Ask your team what do they expect of you? What is it that they would have you change if they could? What is it that they want you to stop doing? These questions will open a can of worms that you would need to deal with but they would provide you with insight into your teams’ trigger points.
Of course, you should use this time to let the team know what you expect of them in terms of their day to day tasks, your schedule in terms of one on one conversations, hard rules that the team must adhere to & any leniencies you are inclined to offer the team.
This exercise will enable the next step you should consider taking in your leadership career.
2. Achieving A Quick Win
Your next step should be to try to gain trust within your team as quickly as possible. The formula below was developed in 2000 as a way for people to gain the trust of others. Following this equation is
The formula will be covered in-depth in a future article. For now, know that you should be aiming to build your credibility in the team. Whilst that might seem like a daunting task, your efforts to understand your team’s pain points gives you an excellent starting platform. Review your notes from your team meeting and attempt to organize the list by impact and feasibility. The aim here is to identify which action item can be easily achieved whilst having the most positive impact on the team. For example, if a majority of your team feels that they want to work on multiple queues and not just perform the same task day in and day out, week on week, you could create a weekly work schedule. This would allow your team members to know what to expect in terms of their workflows and will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work each queue on a weekly basis.
The point here is to find a deliverable that you can quickly achieve and take back to your team.
Once you have built credibility, you must capitalize on it. You should consider holding another team meeting with the aim of collecting feedback from the team as to how satisfied they are with your solution. If the response is negative, tweak the solution until it is more palatable. If the team are satisfied with your solution, you should take the opportunity to reassure your team members that the changes that you are dedicated to addressing all the concerns that they brought forward to you. Reassure them that your success as a leader is determined by their success as a team and as individuals. Reassure them that as long as they are willing to keep communication channels open and to share their thoughts, opinions and feelings with you, you will do whatever you can to create a positive work environment for them. If you feel comfortable, you can even reassure them that you will not hide the truth from them unless it is critical to do so.
This exercise should only be done once you deliver on at least one problem. This will help build intimacy between your team and yourself. However, it can all unravel unless you follow the final piece of the puzzle.
Now that you have built a higher degree of trust with your team, you should be looking at delivering on your promises to the team. Whilst that is easier said than done, you can still take this step by being forthcoming with information and updates. If you run into some difficulty in implementing a solution to a problem, share it with your team and ask them for their opinion on how they might overcome that hurdle. This will have the added benefit of the team knowing that they were involved in the development of a solution making them be more open to embracing it. Even if you tried and failed to address a concern, share that with the team. Being open with them in failure will build their respect for you as they know you put in the effort to address their concerns.
Once implemented, these steps should set you up for success as a leader. However, there is so much more to being a great leader. If you want to know more about how Dicorm can help you in your leadership journey, get in touch with us for a free, no-obligation session.