You’ve just been promoted into your first leadership role. Congratulations, all your hard work has paid off! In between the congratulations and high fives, it’s time to get laser focused on what lies ahead.
If you’ve been promoted from within, chances are you’re now leading some of your friends, as well as some on your team that wanted the promotion themselves. There’s also an age factor, for the first time you may be leading someone older than you, even more important, it might be the first time that older person has had to report to someone younger than them.
This leadership opportunity may also be your first chance for a new view, and I’m not talking office views. Great leaders are all about “we, as a team,” and you know the saying, “There’s no I in team,” it is spot on!
So, what do you do first in your new role?
1. Schedule a team meeting
a. For all the reasons listed above, assure everyone on the team gets the same initial message from you, tell them:
i. What do you bring to the table?
ii. Let them know, there are no sweeping changes planned
iii. Your goal is to get to know each team member and what each of you do
iv. What’s on the team’s wish list (break out the white board)
1. If we had an open budget what does our department need?
2. What are we doing well in our department?
3. What can we do better?
4. How can I help?
v. Open door policy, have one and mean it, be available
2. One-on-one meetings
a. Start connecting, personally and professionally
i. Do not forget your team has a life outside of work, get to know them, their passions
ii. Get to know what motivates them at work, where do they want to be in 1-2 years
b. Encourage and mentor
i. Never stop teaching or learning
Your goal as a leader is to come into a new position and calm fears, those same fears many on your team have in the face of change. Let them know you’re here as a partner to walk alongside them, to help them, be their cheerleader and their mentor.
That wish list your team talks through, prioritize what’s most important to them and work for some quick wins and start digging in on the projects that will take more time. What you’re now doing day to day is all about building relationships with your team and building their trust. The title of leadership does not come with a free “trust” card, trust is earned. The sooner your team knows you’re willing to fight for them, you’ve got their back, you listen and involve them in the process, the sooner you can all focus on the strategic changes that need to be made to excel your company forward.