So I'm Officially a Leader... Now What?

Congratulations on becoming a leader.Well, you did it. After all your hard work, your contributions, and your tenacity, you got it. That promotion. That next step.

You had the celebratory party (hopefully with cake), shook hands, hugged your loved ones, and eagerly awaited the moment when you could check your paystub to see if it were true. Yes! The money’s there! You’ve made it! You’ve been promoted to a supervisor/leadership role!

Then, a week passes. You’re headed home, and it hits you. “What’ve I gotten myself into now? I think I’ve got ‘what it takes,’ but what if I don’t?”

Relax. It’s perfectly natural to have those moments of self-doubt.

In fact, if you’re NOT having those moments, you’re in trouble. You may be using the same mindset and thought patterns that got you the promotion.

Now, the game has changed, and you must as well. But that’s OK, because we all have to evolve to grow. Sometimes growth is easy; sometimes, it’s painful. It’s all part of the process – your process.

Adjusting to your leadership role means expanding your skills and increasing your awareness in a number of ways, and they’re noticeable (by you, but more importantly, by others—namely your team members).

Questions and situations will almost immediately come up that require you to think and act differently. You’ll need to begin thinking about your impact on others in a much more intentional way than you did before. As renowned author and leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith stated, “What got you here won’t get you there.

You may have been promoted from among your peers. You’re immediately different in their eyes—and maybe you competed with them for your promotion.

Here are three ways you can start increasing your awareness and thoughtfulness with your team members:

1. Acknowledge your team members’ feelings and respect where they’re coming from.

Were you ever passed over? Remember how that felt? That’s where they are.

Don’t say, “I know just how you feel.” You don’t. Say, “I know this is a difficult and awkward situation given our history together; however, I’m committed to working with you to achieve our team goals. What can I count on you to do?”

2. Reassure them that while your interpersonal relationships will remain, you now have different responsibilities than you did before.

Always keep your focus on the present and future.

Your team will say things like, “You weren’t like that when you were one of us.”

Rather than getting defensive, you can respond with a statement like, “In the past we’ve relied on each other as teammates. Now, I’m going to need your help even more as your boss. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can all create a better future together. And trust me; I’ve got your back.”

3. Ask what they want next for their career, and assure them that you’ll do what you can to help them achieve it.

If you’ve been with the team for a while, you probably have already assessed everyone’s performance and potential.

Your job, now, is to help all team members unleash their potential.

So do it. (And you probably don’t need to hear from me how rewarding your new role will be.)

And when you need help, or are looking to take more new strides in your leadership skillstraining courses led by experts can help you reach the next level quicker and better.

Scott Boozer, of Boozer Leadership & Learning, contributed to this blog post.

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