Once you have identified the areas that need work from assessments on leadership competencies, it is time to research training options, look at mentoring and avoid the common early mistakes as a new leader.
Start by contacting your Human Resources department. Are there in-house training opportunities you can access? Does your company’s benefit package offer professional development funds? If so, ask your HR representative what it types of training are eligible. You may be eligible for funding to take a leadership training course (classroom or online), buy books or magazine subscriptions on leadership or hire a coach.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is another training option that can be your best source of continued professional development. A mentor can be found within your company or outside your company or industry. The key is to find someone that is well respected for their leadership ability. Ask if you can take them out for lunch or coffee to talk to them about their leadership success. Having an advisor to coach you along as you adjust to your new role and beyond provides validation on the solutions you’ve come up with as well as a fresh perspective on your problems.
Qualities to look for in a mentor:
- Respected in their company and industry
- Many years of experience
- Strong in areas that you are weak in
- Positive attitude
- Believes in helping the less experienced
- Your mentor will be able to help you wade through your first mistakes. Three common early mistakes are: rushing in with input or change demands before you have a full grasp of the situation,
- micromanaging by controlling the process instead of delegating to achieve an outcome and
- being insensitive to the change in dynamics within the team.
If you rush in without taking the time to learn the lay of the land, you’ll be making decisions while on a learning curve. It is imperative that you become a sponge and ask many questions and create open dialogues with your staff and their internal clients. Take the time up front to build valuable relationships and show your respect for those who have worked in and around your department.
Delegating is imperative to not only empower your team but to make your job manageable. Assess your team’s talents and your workload and see what can be parcelled out. Allow your staff to make smart mistakes i.e. mistakes that were not due to lack of planning or homework. Smart mistakes are about unforeseen hiccoughs that can not be anticipated. Encourage having a plan B and running through all possible scenarios ahead of time to make sure they are taking calculated risks. There is no teacher like a mistake! Remember that there are many ways to Rome and as long as the outcome is what you asked for and they haven’t been unethical in getting there – great!
When a new leader comes on board it is not always easy on the existing team. They must adjust to the new captain of the ship. Allow them time to adjust to the change and seek their input by empathetic dialogue as much as possible. Of course, if someone is a negative Nelly and is bringing down the team to the point where performance is being impacted – time for some tough coaching. Speak to your HR representative if performance coaching is new to you.
Leading a team to a victory is a very satisfying achievement for all concerned. Honing your leadership competencies will help you feel more confident and gain the skills to inspire and motivate your team. Good luck in your new role!