‘Leadership’ is a word laden with heavy meaning, loads of ‘shoulds’, assumptions and pressure and we (especially as women!) tend to overthink the change, so here are my top tips on how to make this transition confidently and effectively if you are a new or interim leader.
Remind yourself that you are still YOU. Often, we think now we are a ‘leader’ we need to change totally how we operate and we can lose the sense of who we are. Surround yourself with colleagues who will give you honest feedback if you are starting to veer into inauthentic behaviours.
Don’t believe you MUST have all the answers. Just because you are a ‘leader’ doesn’t mean you have somehow transformed into the Oracle! Focus on listening and really listen to understand what people are saying (most people just listen for the gap when they can speak… don’t do this!). Repeat back what you think you’ve heard from people, use silence, open questions and ask them for their contributions in terms of solutions.
Look after yourself. Moving to a new role will naturally come with more responsibilities. Consider what are your life-balance ‘red lines’. Is it not responding to emails after 6pm? Is it being home for bedtime 3 nights a week? Is it to have lunch away from your desk every day? Don’t role model burn-out for your new team. You could even make your ‘red-lines’ known to your team if you feel it’s appropriate so they can support you.
Surround yourself with diversity. Is someone difficult, opinionated, or negative about a project? Does someone approach the problem from a completely different perspective and make you feel a bit uncomfortable? Do you recognise someone has completely different life experiences to you? Often these people can represent friction and possibly uncomfortable interactions, but they actually provide welcome challenge and insight! My advice? Bring them into projects and conversations. If you really listen to their point of view and make them part of the solution, the end result is often significantly improved. It’s likely been through more rigorous questioning, and different perspectives have been taken into account - all in all, it will land better with more people AND they might well become your biggest advocates!
Get a brilliant coach. Whether that’s a paid relationship or a free resource internally, find someone with whom you can work ideas through, be honest about what you’re struggling with and identify approaches and techniques to manage these new expectations. Identifying your purpose, exploring your strengths and connecting yourself back to your values is often really useful to anchor yourself through this leadership transition. Choose someone who’s NOT your line manager, and ideally has no vested interest in the business impact, and only cares about your happiness and success.
Remember to lead YOURSELF first, the rest will follow!
Book a call with Gemma to discuss the leadership challenges you’re facing and the type of leader you want to be and the tailored support available.