Say that one moment you’re a highly skilled member of a team, performing a critical role. Then, you transition into a leadership role, one where you’re now in charge of leading that same team. You’ve moved from a place where you’re confident in your abilities and have clarity in your station, to one where you’re now:
- Building relationships
- Aligning systems for efficiency
- Nurturing the growth of others on the team
Gaining competency in these skills can be a challenging process for every new leader.
The New Leader’s Conundrum
Maybe it seems as if it all happened in a mere moment. Instead of moving assuredly in one direction, you’re faced with making a myriad of decisions, each with an unclear outcome. Many people enter into leadership positions after having spent their careers building and bolstering technical skill sets. Those skill sets can be helpful in giving them an understanding of the processes their teams perform but leave them poorly prepared in other ways.
Fortunately, there are six foundational steps you can take every day. These provide you with a solid footing, allowing you to build trust with your team and serve their best interests. These steps include:
1. Showing Up
Arrive with a great attitude, air of belief, and quiet confidence. There’s no substitute for genuine positivity and a willingness to truly know the people you serve. Show your team that they are your priority by being present in conversations, caring in your actions, and thoughtful when listening. Doing so helps you build the relationships that will be the foundation of your success.
Make every interaction count, because while you may have 100 different interactions in a day, most people only interact with you once!
2. Planning and Reflecting
Take 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to plan out your work. This will allow you a margin for efficiency as you work to meet the varied requirements of your job. There’s a deceptively simple adage that says, “Plan the work and work the plan.” Consider that the efficiency with which you utilize your time will be the determining factor between whether you are highly successful or merely hanging on.
Leave space for 10 minutes of reflection at the end of each day. Use this time to evaluate your work and the leadership impacts you made, charting the progress that you’re making.
It’s vital that you get back to people, both answering their requests and replying to their messages. Make certain you attend to the needs of your team, because in their eyes, nothing will convey your standards more. Create a system for following up on communication and carve out blocks of time each day for this purpose. Your responses will be timely, your inbox manageable, and you’ll be perceived as highly responsive and attentive.
Many new leaders arrive in their roles mistakenly believing their job consists merely of oversight. While that is a large component of the role, when you’re seen to produce on behalf of the team, it conveys the message that you’re all in it together. How does a successful leader produce? They:
- Make the environment in which their team works more welcoming and efficient
- Align support processes to allow their team to grow
Deliver by keeping your commitments, however large or small. Deliver by following established norms of behavior and acting as an example to your team. Deliver by authentically celebrating and recognizing your teams’ successes. Include your team’s voices on key parts of decisions and express genuine happiness when they succeed.
When a lack of information exists, people will often fill it with worst-case scenarios.
Speak the truth and give hope. Doing so regularly builds your team’s trust and their belief in your intentions. There is no substitute for communicating consistently with your team or for creating an avenue where they can communicate meaningfully with you.
And remember, when in doubt…communicate again!
At times, highly successful leaders can distinguish themselves with their knowledge or by possessing high degrees of insight. However, leaders who achieve sustained success and enjoy loyalty and commitment from their teams universally practice the six steps listed above.
In fact, most leaders will attribute their success, and the success of their teams, to the relentless application of these steps. Want to begin your leadership journey, or improve your current situation? Perform these six steps with persistent commitment.
Take the first step to defining your purpose and setting meaningful leadership goals today. Download our free eBook.
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.