Balancing it all in life. As we move higher in an organization and take on bigger leadership roles we have to let go of being the “doer”, learn to delegate. Build other skills: influence, collaboration, strategic planning, thought leadership, etc.
It’s a tale as old as time. A high-performer like yourself, someone who’s really great at whatever it is you do, gets noticed. A leadership role opens up and, because you’re so good at doing your thing, you get promoted.
Hurray! You have a fancy new title and you’re managing people and projects now. There’s just one problem: no one ever actually trained you to be a leader.
Learning to Lead
Leadership requires a suite of skills that most of us end up learning on the fly. Companies of all shapes and sizes are notorious for thrusting their best producers into management without taking the time to make sure they have the necessary know-how to lead. They chronically under-invest in professional development.
But that’s okay, because you’re smart and talented and you’ll figure it all out. Your whole career has been a journey, pushing you to undergo one transformational shift after another. Every time you ascend to a new level and assume broader responsibilities, you evolve. You adapt. You learn new skills – and as you level up, you also have to learn to let some things go.
Up until now, you probably thrived on being the most capable person on your team. You knew how to get things done, and you knew your own role inside and out. You were the go-to person for helping out the newbies. Every performance review was glowing. As so you got your promotion. Congratulations!!
It’s important to realize, though, that this is the start of possibly the biggest shift you’ll have to make. You’re not the executor anymore. You’re not the doer. It’s time to wear the mantle of the conductor, the empower-er, the leader.
I’ve been there, so believe me when I say I know how daunting it can be. It demands an intentional mindset shift. We must come to understand that leadership doesn’t mean doing it all yourself (even if you can).
It means enabling others. Understanding their strengths so you can delegate effectively. Fostering a culture where individuals can come together as a team and thrive. Trusting your staff to get things done in a way that is perhaps a little different than the way you used to do it. That’s hard! That’s really letting go!
Level Up These Critical Skills
Delegation is only the start of your leadership development. There are several other skills you’ll need to master. As you relinquish the role of ‘doer,’ other competencies take center stage. I would name the following four skills as ones you’ll want to level up in ASAP.
Influence: Influence is not about power or authority. It’s the ability to inspire others to act, to perform at their best, and to feel positive about their contributions. This is how real leaders unite their teams in a common cause and get results.
Collaboration: The bigger the company, the more complexities that need to be navigated. You’ll likely be working with multiple departments whose cooperation you’ll need to achieve your goals. Learn to harness the power of diverse perspectives and the knowledge of these ‘hive minds’ and leverage them in service of your mission.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa
Strategic Planning: Before you start putting a puzzle together, you find the corners, right? (I hope so!) To be effective as a leader, you cannot be passive. You must plan ahead, working backward from the ultimate vision to create a detailed roadmap for success.
Thought Leadership: You’re a leader now! That means others will look to you for guidance and input as the industry landscape changes – or as you create those changes from the inside. How you communicate your vision and how you challenge the status quo will help build your credibility among peers.
It may sound daunting, but don’t let any of this hold you back. If you’re new to leadership or preparing for your next opportunity, there are several places to turn for help.
If you have a mentor or someone whose leadership style you admire, take them to lunch and pick their brain. Your human resources department may offer professional development programs or reimburse for continuing education. And career coaching was made to tackle these kinds of challenges. Call me and we can work through any blind spots, soft spots, or scary spots together!