Last week we discussed why new leaders fail. This week we look at how to be successful in your new leadership role. There are multiple things to drive your success, but today we will discuss three core principles you want to take care of first. 

Listen before you act.

When you transition from an independent contributor role to a leadership role, you need to make some adjustments. As a contributor, the only person you have to worry about is you. Once you accept that leadership role, you can’t just start making decisions. You have a team now and, chances are, they know more about what is going on than you do.

The first word of advice to be successful in your new leadership role is to listen. Meet with your new team, both direct reports and the staff under them. Learn what their day is like, their priorities, and their challenges. Take the time to process that new knowledge before you start making decisions about what you do next.

Many people will say not to make significant changes for the first 90 days. That’s not a magic number. What is important is that you don’t make big decisions out of hubris or uninformed opinion. Your new team will help you understand what is going on, so listen to them. Plus, it’s a great way to build engagement and show the team that their opinion is relevant.

Time Management and Prioritization

Another realization you will have is you don’t have the schedule flexibility you had as an independent contributor. There will be multiple demands on your time now. With direct reports come questions, problems, and opportunities that you will need to address daily.

So you need to create a schedule for yourself. The first thing to plan is 1:1s with your team to get facetime to address anything they are facing. This is their time and their agenda, not yours. When your team knows they have a dedicated time to speak with you on the calendar, they are less likely to interrupt you outside of emergencies. 

Next, make sure you have some open door time for people to come in and speak with you. As a new leader, you need to be accessible. It’s your best chance to know what is going on in the business. A great idea is to schedule time to work in an open area where people can approach and speak with you.

Finally, you need to get a handle on your work and set some priorities around it. Then schedule your “heads down” time on the calendar to get it done. You will find that you will have less time to get work done, so knowing what is important and focusing on it will be a game-changer for you.

Delegation and Accountability

Now that you know what your priorities are, it’s time to level up your delegation skills. As you grow into leadership roles, you will find you need to be thinking farther ahead and living less in the day-to-day. Unfortunately, that day-to-day work doesn’t disappear. So, you need to get good at delegating.

There are two parts to delegation: assignment and accountability. When you assign work to your team, you need to be very clear about what the work is to be done, what you need from the result, and when you need it. Then, get out of the way. Be open to questions, be open to giving guidance but let them do the work within the parameters you have set for them. Don’t hover, and don’t micromanage!

This brings us to a discussion of accountability. It’s good to provide your team members the leeway to get the work done. And, you need to hold them accountable for getting the job done accurately and timely. If it’s a longer-term assignment, don’t get nervous. You have the weekly 1:1s to get updates and answer questions. 

If you find that the employee can’t meet the deadline and quality needs, you will need to make adjustments. Be more direct. Ensure they know they can come to you for help. Perhaps build milestones into the assignment to help keep them on track. Provide guidance and teach them so they can improve for the future. You need a team you can trust with delegated tasks so the entire group can be successful.

These are just a few steps to consider to be successful in your new leadership role. Consider them the basic blocking and tackling that will make you an effective leader. There is more to come, but this is the right place to start.

Are you new to your leadership role? Maybe you haven’t received the training you hoped for. Let’s connect to see how I can help.

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