By: Cindy Wahler
Individual contributors are rewarded when they consistently meet timelines, produce high-quality work, demonstrate initiative and fit well within company culture. Assuming you hit these markers, your dream could then come true: You are promoted and offered a role where you now lead others. Your new role is a game-changer. It’s not a game-changer for the reasons you believe, such as title or compensation, but you are now required to actually lead.
As an individual contributor you were primarily responsible for your own deliverables. Although there were times when life was hectic and ever changing, sole contributors have greater control of their environment. You now have many more variables to juggle.
In order to be successful, the behaviours you exhibited, although vital, now require you to adopt an additional skill set. Leaders who fail to grasp this may be challenged, as it will be all that much harder to transition successfully.
So what is a new leader to do? Here are five key leadership behaviours to adopt:
- Paint the Vision
Leaders are required to inspire others to be accountable and drive the overall strategy. This means you as a leader must articulate not just “how,” but also “why” each and every team member is interconnected. This allows your team to appreciate how everyone is interdependent and collectively reliant upon each other in order to be successful.
- Lead Through Others
Take the time to invest in understanding what motivates your peers and direct reports. Your ability to fulfil your mandate is no longer solely up to you. By understanding unique drivers, you position your team to truly own and drive change.
- Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Leaders often have the desire to not give up control. Alternatively, they may believe that a good leader will roll up their sleeves and get down in the trenches with their direct reports. The danger in this is twofold: One, you send a message to your staff that you don’t trust them, which negatively impacts creating an engaged culture. And two, your new seniority requires you to elevate your thinking and contribute at a more strategic level.
- Get Noisy
You are now required to express a point of view. Step back and offer suggestions on how to improve and enhance the current state. Linking your efforts to your peers and offering new paradigms to drive growth is not only encouraged but expected.
- Actively Network
A common mistake is for new leaders to keep their head down. After all, there is pressure to prove yourself and show the decision makers that they made the right call in selecting you. If you maintain a network with your tried-and-true usual suspects, then you may fail to create the necessary visibility and profile to get the job done. You are reliant on a much broader network and must seek to establish connections with senior leaders who can help advocate on your behalf.
Leaders who lead must engage in a whole new set of behaviours in order to be successful. Ultimately you must break out of your comfort zone.
It is important to recognize that not taking a risk and adopting new behaviours is a risk in of itself. If you want to be noticed and heard, being bold and adopting a leadership style that fits the definition of a stand-up leader will be sure to put you on the radar screen of leaders who matter. This is both crucial for your success in your new role and equally imperative if you hope to be tapped on the shoulder once again.