Congratulations – you have been promoted into a leadership role for the first time and feel like you have the world by the horns. This is what you have been striving for your whole career up to this point. It is an amazing day indeed!
It also can be one of the scariest days of your life …
Moving into management is a big deal. You likely got a fancy title and a pay raise and maybe even an office all to yourself. Hey, look at you! The decision to move into a leader role, however, comes with great responsibility. It also comes packaged with the realization that everybody is watching and listening to you closer than ever. They really are – do you know this yet?
One of the opportunities I enjoy the most is when I am coaching and working with a client that has just been promoted into their first leadership role. The more I interact with new leaders, the more I notice the habits they adopt that will most often result in long term success.
See, here’s the thing. When I ask the newly promoted what type of leader they want to be, they tend to ignore their inbred or natural attributes like intelligence or attractiveness. They instead respond with qualitative traits like approachability, supportiveness and likeability. And these characteristics are highlighted because they are the ones the new leaders appreciated the most in bosses from their past. Hmm … interesting.
So, how does one become a success in their first role as a leader? Contained below are five key habits and behaviors of folks that make an amazing transition into their first leadership position and set themselves up for long-term success./
1. They Have A Plan
When it comes to projects, we say to plan the work and work the plan. Same goes for stepping into a new leadership role. Taking the time to identify those tactical and strategic items that must be achieved in the first 180 days on the job is a powerful way to get out of the gate. The plan – a documented plan – will create a platform from which one can build a foundation for long-term success. This is no time to “wing it” and hope for the best.
Focus on activities such as:
- Communication plans
- Management Tools
- Ways of working with your new peers
- Releasing of your previous role’s responsibilities.
The plan should create a roadmap for those first six months and will define those high priority items that are beyond the minute-by-minute duties of the day.
2. They Take Time To Listen
You may now be the boss in the group, but it’s unlikely you are the smartest cat in the room. It is possible that you could show up with the least amount of expertise of your new team. Ask questions – lots and lots of them – and discover what is important for your new team members. Discover what they feel is needed in order for them to be successful. Ask what they need from you as their leader and the best ways to hold them accountable. And uncover those obstacles that are standing in the way of their success.
Ensure that your team witnesses your ability to listen and respond. As hard as it might be, seek those opportunities to listen to your new team – the results just might amaze you.
3. They Draw Their Own Conclusions
Often times the appearance of a new leader on the scene is met with a barrage of statements from others that start with “You’ve got to …” or “You must …”. It might be dealing with a problem employee or approving the purchase of a new piece of equipment or the hiring of some additional personnel. Fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind. Acting on the opinions – or dare say emotions – of others without proper due diligence can prove quite dangerous. New leaders are advised to take the time to observe and analyze for themselves those items identified as needing their attention. And then the new leader can decide and act based on their own conclusions with the collaboration of others.
4. They Establish Meaningful Relationships
Creating those relationships that matter with peers, leaders and direct reports/team members is a critical key to success in a leadership role. Discovering what support they need from you and sharing what your expectations are of them opens the door to productive long-term interactions. This behavior requires the leader to act with intentionality and to pursue the relationships right out of the gate.
I recall in my last leadership role, I conducted over 35 one-on-one review conversations every month with the folks in my “circle” – peers, leaders, supporters and direct reports. This, I conclude, was the number one key to my success as an operations leader. No joke
5. They Act With Authenticity
You have always heard to “just be yourself” since you were a young person. And in leadership it is true as well. Generally people will like, trust and respect someone who is genuine and authentic. A leader who can show empathy and strength – whatever is appropriate at the time – creates a following. Most likely, those around you already like and respect you for who you are each day. The role and title of leader should not change that about you. Authenticity and humility are important keys to making the personal connections that will make you a success!
Leadership is a privilege. Leadership is a commitment. And with leadership comes great responsibility to both the cause and the people. Always look for the next building block to make the structure stronger. Choose to be an amazing leader today.
Whether you are a first time leader yourself or you work with first time leaders, initiating a focus on those approaches that are building blocks for long-term success will make a remarkable difference. Adopt these five habits of successful new leaders and you will be well on your way to an enjoyable and impactful career.
By Eric Kulikowski
Since his days studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Dayton, Eric has dedicated himself to the pursuit of excellence. Eric’s vision of being “better than most” motivates him to continuously build on earlier successes in his life. His success has been built on a platform of employee engagement, cultural significance and change leadership. As a leader development coach, speaker and consultant, Eric started his business, Dare to be Amazing, to help leaders make change possible. Businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals engage with Eric because they want to discover proven ways to thrive in the chaos that surrounds them.