Keep In Mind: You Have To Earn Your Official Leadership Position…Twice
Leadership Lesson: Earning respect in leadership is an ongoing exercise in which there is no room for complacency in one’s performance, no matter what position or level is achieved.
You need to keep earning your stripes.
Leadership doesn’t have to be designated or official to be effective, but in the cases where official positions are being discussed, leadership has to be earned twice – the first on the path to that official leadership assignment, and the second after the attainment of the new assignment.
That second bite at proving one’s leadership worth is a demonstration that the promotion into the higher position was well-earned and is respected and taken seriously by that leader.
Some people fall off the wagon after earning an official leadership title. But a leader has to work twice as hard, though, not only in the work he or she is responsible for, but also in the impression that she or he makes on those being lead and impacted.
There are questions on the lips and in the minds of those around a leader when they’ve been promoted: Will they be more effective? Will they be a similar version of themselves? Will they drop the ball?
You may still be working with the same group of people, whether it’s a large group or a relatively smaller team, but your perspective changes, therefore, necessitating the need for your approach to change to reconcile for that shift in perspective.
Here are some ways to help make that transition a little more smooth:
Ask Even More Than You Used To
As an official leader, there’s now even more you need to know, across a broader swath of a talent and experience pool, than when you served in your previous position.
The knowledge you need is no longer limited to the structure of your previous, smaller world. You may have had familiarity of other groups and divisions before being promoted, but now you have to go beyond general knowledge to gain a working knowledge of the overall environment.
Consulting the specialists in each group provides you with what you need to know and conveys to those specialists that you are taking their experience and ability into account in order to lead the mission.
Do you dismiss previous colleagues because of your new title?
Do you feel the information you require should only be presented without you inquiring?
Listen More Than You Used To
As an official leader, now you need to listen even more. Whereas before you may have been limited to your smaller environment with limited players, now there is more to take in and process.
Listening is a powerful tool. It sounds like common-sense advice, but is rare to see in action – true listening-to-learn. Through listening-to-learn, you understand what someone is saying as well as what they are not saying, meaning what you would need to gather from non-verbal cues and behavior.
The ability to listen is powerful as others will approach you because you’ve demonstrated you’re open-minded to at least hearing others out in order to make the best decisions.
Do you make people feel as if their story, work, and needs are being heard and acknowledged?
Has your curiosity grown since taking on your new responsibility?
Be More Honest Than You Used To Be
As an official leader, honesty is just as important as it was before – if not, more so. It’s a different kind of honesty, but just as vital.
Honesty, previously, was important as you were in the inner-workings of the organization. People needed to know what was going on in your part of the business mechanism, without apprehension or inhibition on your part.
The ability to be honest is noble, saves time and money, and contributes to trust in the workplace. Honesty at a lower level impacts everything; but honesty (and dishonesty alike) at the official leader level may cause a major ripple effect throughout the organization and pays (or depletes) dividends with those in your charge.
Do you recognize the importance of being completely transparent about the work and inner-workings of your organization?
Are you able to be honest about something even if it stings in the short-term, in order to ensure corrections are made and focus sharpened for the long-term?
Use More Tact Than You Used To
Key to being an official leader, and building off the importance of honesty, is using tact. Couth. Consideration. Common-sense, self-aware communication. Whatever you call it, how you say it is just as – or even more — important than what you say.
Tact was important before an official leadership position, but, again, it’s the reach across the larger group that now results in greater implications.
The inability to use tact leads to limitations in effectiveness and execution due to the resulting confusing, incomplete, or inappropriate communication with the workforce. Without effective conveyance, the information, the knowledge, and the details get lost due to delivery.
Do you realize the importance of tact now that you’ll be working with more people from different backgrounds and specializations?
Do you take into consideration what the difference will now be in how you will approach situations, people, and partners?
The same way we always continue improving and growing our individual selves in life, we always need to continue garnering respect for the result of our actions and methods in work.
It isn’t enough to reach a goal, and then give up the effort which got you there. Maintenance of an environment is just as critical as the work that developed that environment. That also translates to the individual level in the form of leadership assignments and promotions.
Don’t stop working once you’ve reached your goal. People need to see your drive and understand you. People and the organization can also feed off your rhythm and cadence.
Now, you’re working for everyone. You’re not sitting on top of the world. Not quite yet.
Your title may announce you, but your demeanor and style confirm you.