You did it! You finally earned that promotion that you worked so hard for, which means the life you’ve been dreaming about finally begins!
Now, you probably agree that although this next step in your career is going to be exciting, there’s a lot you don’t know. With this in mind, you should realize that not knowing what you’re up against means costly mistakes are possible.
Since we’ve successfully coached others through this change, our goal is to help you avoid as many problems as possible. That being the case, we’re going to share with you seven key points to keep in mind as you transition from frontline employee to leader.
Transitioning from frontline employee to a leader may be the most challenging transition during your career. Why? Because the skills that got you a promotion aren’t the skills that’ll make you a successful leader.
As an individual contributor, success is dependent upon the ability to do the work. On the other hand, as a leader, success is dependent upon the ability to influence and motivate others.
Surrender the need to do the work and control everything. Failure to do so could result in your becoming a micromanager and hinder your ability to develop your team adequately. Even worse, not letting go could stifle productivity and cause low morale. Unfortunately, all of this could negatively impact on your ability to be effective. Remember, it’s no longer about you doing the work; it’s about getting work done through others.
If your team consists of former peers, it’s important to remember your leadership role takes precedence over the friendship. Therefore, you’ll need to determine how to manage your team effectively while maintaining healthy professional relationships. Your priorities should be to gain the trust of your former peers and ensure they understand your expectations. For these reasons, it’s vital that you meet with them individually to discuss expectations, boundaries, and the need to keep your relationship professional. Above all, you want to avoid the perception that you’re playing favorites because it could reduce team morale. Worse yet, it could lead to a visit to HR for the appearance of not treating team members fairly.
The best gift you can give to your team is to get out of their way and trust them to do their jobs. For this reason, it’s important to recognize that every team member has unique skills. Allowing each team member to use their skills will lead to happier employees. That said, get to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and determine how you can support them. Check in from time to time to see how they are doing. Look for ways to recognize and reward their success. Trusting the team to make decisions and to do the work will motivate them to do their best. Giving your team the freedom to deliver the results you desire will provide you with the time needed to focus on other aspects of the business.
Understanding your organization’s, strategic objectives, mission, and goals is critical if you desire to be successful. Knowing what’s important to your company will allow you to set goals and focus on what matters most. Failure to align goals and focus your team’s day to day activities on what matters will lead to poor performance. On the flip side, understanding the big picture will enable you to look ahead into the future, anticipate changes, and make adjustments accordingly.
In leadership, ambiguity comes with the territory. Ambiguity could mean new and unfamiliar situations for which you have no prior experience or knowledge. Also, it could mean having to make decisions without complete information. Whatever the reason, your ability to be resilient in the face uncertainty, both inwardly and outwardly, is critical. Leaders are expected to make decisions with or without all of the facts. As a result, it’s important that you trust your ability to analyze situations and determine the best course of action, even in the absence of complete information.
John C. Maxwell is a leading expert on leadership. In his book, The 360 Degree Leader, Maxwell teaches how to develop your influence from wherever you are in an organization. Being a 360-degree leader means having the ability to influence your direct reports, manager, and peers. To influence means to add value. Adding value to your direct reports means being a strong role model and helping the team realize their potential. For your manager, adding value means lightening their load and doing the work that others are not willing to do. And, for your peers, adding value means helping them achieve positive results. Being a 360-degree leader will maximize your impact and support the effort to build a positive team environment
The ability to delegate is typically the hardest skill for new leaders to develop. For some, the inability to let go prevents them from delegating effectively. For others, bad experiences with delegating leads to resistance. Whatever the reasons, it’s important to understand that; effective delegating can make or break your career! As mentioned earlier, the role of a leader is to get work done through others. Leaders who develop their delegation skill are better at monitoring and managing the effectiveness of their team. Likewise, they are also better at staying on top of their emails, budget, etc. Think of delegating as a way to get work done and a way to develop others. The more comfortable you are with delegating, the better leader you will become. But be careful. Delegating, without setting the right expectations, can have unintended results.
There you go! Seven of the most important things you need to know to make a successful transition from an individual contributor to a leader. The transition from frontline to leadership doesn’t have to be hard as long as you’re aware of how you’ll need to adjust. If you’re capable of adjusting accordingly, your transition should be pretty smooth.
If you’ve already made the transition from frontline employee to leadership, comment below and let us know what challenges you experienced and how you overcame them.
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