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It's the opportunity you've been working towards. You've exceeded performance goals, collaborated seamlessly with colleagues and surpassed your boss' expectations. Now, you've been given a promotion. It means a chance to have greater control over your work and take a major part in the conversations about where your company is going.

In short, you're a leader now.

But new leader-managers need to be careful that they're prepared for bigger challenges, not just a bigger office. All too often, I'm called in to work with a new manager who, until recently, was a superstar engineer, programmer, scientist or sales rep, but is now struggling to adapt to their new position in a leadership role.

Company leadership often has high hopes for an employee who has demonstrated outstanding performance in their former position, but fails to realize that a new manager may need more guidance than they're getting as they settle into their new role. As a result, the company is disappointed and the new manager gets increasingly frustrated as they struggle to adapt.

But it doesn't have to be this way. If you're new to the leadership ranks and are having trouble transitioning, here are some tips for settling into the big chair.

  1. Identify key skills. Go back to your job new description and the skills required to get the job done. Identify those that you had little opportunity to develop before moving into the job. Prioritize the skills you need to develop and come up with a plan to work on those skills.

  2. Ask yourself the tough questions. All new jobs require a period of adjustment. Don't lose sight of why you wanted this position in the first place. Why is this the best position for your abilities? How committed are you to developing the skills required? Why are you passionate about being a leader? By keeping these questions in the forefront, you can maintain your confidence in your decision to advance your career.

  3. Make a plan. If you're committed to gaining the skills necessary for your new job, make it happen. Sit down with your manager, review your strengths and weaknesses together, and map out a plan.

It is always appropriate to ask for guidance and doing so will not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. On the contrary, to assume that slipping into a leadership role will be seamless and not cause any disconcerting feelings of inadequacy may, in fact, be a demonstration of an overreaching ego or stubbornness. Most job transitions, no matter what the level, require a transition period of a minimum of six months before some degree of comfort and expertise is experienced.


Larry Hart

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