How to move from being a colleague to becoming a leader?
It’s elating; that feeling when you’ve just achieved a promotion.
At last, a chance to implement your plans, to see your ideas come to fruition and the opportunity to lead your team to great things.
And then it hits you. You’re going to have to manage the same people who used to be your colleagues.
The ones who you’ve – let’s be honest – spent more than an occasional five minutes gossiping with by the coffee machine, or had a few nights out with celebrating. They may have a different mindset from you, differing ways of communicating, and it’s possible you may even have had past disagreements with some of them.
Welcome to the world of leadership!
How best can you make that transition from colleague to a leader, using the self-leadership skills you already possess and make sure you get it right?
In this article, I’ll show you how, with these seven easy to follow steps that will see you make a move – fast!
1. Importance Of Self-Awareness
Great leadership starts with the ability to self-lead.
You already know how to manage yourself and have great self-awareness – it’s that ability that has seen you promoted to a position where you can lead others.
You understand who you are, what you can do, where you’re heading and your ability to influence via your communication, behaviour and self-knowledge. In other words, you understand the process by which you seek to ‘lead’ yourself to achieve your objective.
It’s a combination of self-awareness and how you respond to others. And now you need to harness that ability to lead others successfully.
2. Help Your Team Realise Their Potential
Great leadership is not about self-promotion – your mission and vision are to help others realise their potential, so focusing on the needs of your team before considering your own should be a top priority.
Knowing what support team members need – both as a group and individually – seeking their input in decision making, and building a sense of trust to motivate and drive your team is critical to your success as a leader.
And with a sense of trust will come better productivity – as Steven M Covey points out in The Speed Of Trust, if your team members trust you, they will give 100% to help achieve your fundamental goals.
3. Personal Values,Integrity & Credibility
Your personal brand is critical in establishing your integrity and credibility from day one.
Knowing what you stand for and where you excel will enable you to match your strengths to the needs of the business and align your values and vision to the company goals.
To ensure you gain the respect of your team, you will need to embody specific values in your everyday behaviour.
Remember to demonstrate integrity – leading by example. That means being inclusive, embracing diversity, giving everyone in your team a voice and acknowledging individual thoughts and ideas.
Your professional credibility and leadership style should inspire your team to be creative and innovative, and empower them to challenge the status quo.
4. Changing Relationships
The hard fact is that it’s just not possible to remain best buddies with former colleagues if you become the team leader.
Where once you might have happily spent time discussing the latest reality show with them over lunch, you can’t do that and then later the same day have a serious talk about their attitude in the office.
It just won’t work.
So, one of the harder parts of leadership for many is untying those links. That’s not to say you should stop all communication with your former colleagues, but you should definitely withdraw from gossip, office politics and extended lunch invitations.
Keeping a degree of distance will enable you to establish yourself as the team leader, remaining neutral and seeing the overall picture rather than involving yourself in internal office wrangling.
You will gain respect from your team by behaving in this way, rather than trying to maintain past relationships.
5. Getting To Know Your Team Is Critical
Setting aside time for one to one to talks with each member of your team is critical.
Not only will it give you a regular update on what they are doing and allow you to assess their progress; it will give them the opportunity to talk to you about any concerns they have, update you on outcomes, and present ideas or training requests.
It will also show them that you value them as individuals and are authentically interested in their progress and what they have to say.
In the early days of your leadership, it will also give you the chance to talk to each team member about your role change, your overall vision for the team, and explain how the shift in responsibility will affect your relationship, whilst maintaining an overall positive outlook on how you can all work together going forward.
6. Tackle Resistance Up Front
Tackling problems head-on is critical in ensuring they don’t expand.
If there are individuals who throw up problems with your new role, it’s best to talk it through with them in a private discussion to clear the air and position yourself.
Remember to focus on their behaviour with specifics. Give them the opportunity to explain, listening to what they say, and then move forward. Crucially, you should also explain that you see mentoring them to progress and support their career development as part of your role.
Consistency is vital, so stay focused on your goals, your leadership and your encouragement and authenticity. You’ll be leading a great team in no time!
7. Cultivate Your Empathy
Leading others also involves cultivating your empathy. As someone who has previously self-led successfully, you will already have a well-developed sense of self-knowledge and awareness, and therefore will be able to manifest this into an understanding of other’s needs.
Be mindful of your team, and you will encourage loyal, happy staff who feel appreciated, thus creating better working conditions for everyone.
Those same values that you set yourself to help achieve your goals don’t change; they manifest in how you encourage and motivate others to achieve your ultimate business aims.
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