Being dropped into a role of
leadership is both a compliment and burden. And it can be a bit overwhelming,
too. With expectations coming at you from the top and bottom, it’s difficult to
know where to start. Here are 10 tips garnered from colleagues and personal
experience, each one vitally important in successfully managing both campaigns
1: Understand the difference between being a manager and a leader (with
leadership as your goal)
is an act of inspiration, while management is an act of control. Your new role
requires you to be responsible for projects, staff, departmental goals, and more.
Each of these is both dependent and independent of one another, so finding the
connections between them and working to maintain them becomes your sole
Leading in projects means you are
always in the front, taking the time to invest everything you have into your
task. Leading your staff means taking an active interest in who they are as
people, learning their needs, and giving them the required tools to be
successful. By leading, you will inspire a sense of trust and confidence by
those under you and, in the end, will encourage them to follow.
2: Assess the situation
You were put into the role for a
reason, and generally, that reason is to solve a problem. So… get to know the
problem. Learn every angle and uncover every bit of information, then construct
a portrait of the situation. Include interviews with your staff in your
research. This shows that you value their input and experience. It also gives you
critical information from those who are on the front lines. Compare this data
with the reports you have received and include it in your problem portrait. Above
all, see things as they are. Knowing where you are is the first step in knowing
where to go.
3: Review objectives
Contrast the newly defined
problem (#2) with your stated objectives. These are goals given to you by upper
management and information gathered from other sources. A colleague of mine said
that this step is almost as important as situation assessment because the
objectives represent the map out of the
current situation. In addition, this step verifies that the stated objectives
are either sufficient or insufficient to solve the current problem. If it’s the
latter, you have the opportunity to exceed expectations and show those who
appointed you that they made the right decision.
4: Seek a mentor
Should this be higher on the list?
Probably. But given your new situation, practical tips take priority. Find someone
in a higher role who has more knowledge more than you, has the experience to
prove it, and is willing to impart both. Invest the time needed to build a
relationship and bring this person questions you can’t answer yourself. Above
all, learn from your mentor’s mistakes. Those who do not understand history are
doomed to repeat it — so learn about this person’s managerial past and the hard
lessons he or she had to learn.
5: Mentor others
Act as a mentor for your direct
reports and other members of your professional community. Record your successes
and failures, using them as lessons to impart to others. This gets you into a
service mindset while requiring you to keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
Invest time in others and you will be helping them and benefiting yourself as
6: Hone your time management skills
As a leader, your time management
skills must be superb. Everything depends on your ability to balance the daily
tasks appointed to you, with both project management and other duties. Here’s one piece of advice that has trickled down and been put to
good use: “Feed the eagles, not the turkeys.” It’s easy to get bogged
down in things that don’t matter and forget to focus on those tasks that can
make you and your team soar.
7: Improve communication
Communication is one of the
pillars of successful business and the cornerstone of successful leadership. Be
clear about status updates and expectations for projects. Be intentional with
your staff and take a genuine interest in what they have to say and what their
experience has been. The book Crucial Conversations says that the
conflict from poor communication is easily the most destructive element in any
relationship. But this destructive force is easily remedied if the intention to
communicate is there.
8: Understand it’s not about you
True leaders understand that
their success is dependent on those they serve. For your staff, it’s imperative
that you invest the time to get to know them, and by doing so, learn what they
need from you to succeed. For your projects, it’s important to invest the
needed time in each task both with delegation and personal involvement,
ensuring that the goals are achieved. With your customers, it’s about exceeding
their expectations by making what you do an act of service. It’s not about your
success — it’s about everyone and everything you serve.
9: Do a team outing
Want to bond with your team? Hang
out with them outside work. While the personal barriers in the modern workplace
aren’t what they used to be, there still exists a natural apprehension with
being “who you are” while on the job. Outside work, people can be
themselves. Be sure in these hangouts that you don’t put yourself in any
compromising situations. Remember, you are a leader 100% of the time and the
example you set, whether in the workplace or not, is always monitored.
10: Trust your team’s abilities
Micromanagement is not
management. It is an active compensation for a lack of genuine trust. Once you
have assessed your staff and equipped them to be successful, take a step back
and show them that you trust them. Let them soar with their newfound confidence
and give them the chance to shine. In doing this, you will be able to better
assess who works on your team and who does not. Serving your staff means being
honest with them. And sometimes, when it’s not a good fit, serving them means
letting them go. Again, remember that it is not about you, it is about them. Trust
them to accomplish their objectives.
Congratulations on your new role
and good luck. This is your opportunity to take the next big step in your
career. In everything you do, be intentional and genuine. By ensuring that
those around you are successful, you will be successful.