If you just got promoted into a leadership role, this new blog post from Sparta Consulting Group is for you. (But guess what – if you’ve been a leader for decades, this is also for you!)
Let’s dive right in. Here are 5 morsels of advice for leadership rookies to read and re-read.
1. It’s not monkey say monkey do…
Lead by example. You’ve probably heard this pearl of wisdom dozens of times, but have you ever stopped to think about this concept in detail? As a leader, your team will look to you for precedent. Whether you realize it or not, your people are watching and absorbing everything you do: Your dress, office etiquette, work ethic, punctuality, and everything in between. It’s important to set the tone by behaving precisely the way in which you want your team to comport themselves. If you fail to do so, your direction and advice are likely to be ignored by your team. After all, it’s not “monkey say, money do” — it’s “monkey see monkey do.”
Most new leaders learn this the hard way. Instead of being the perfect example to their teams, they unintentionally teach or reinforce poor habits in their people. Take it from those who have been through this frustrating scenario and become the perfect example, right from the start.
2. Seek first to understand…
Effective communication is an essential skill of any great leader. Many new leaders forget that communication is a two-way street. At Sparta Consulting Group, we are big fans of Stephen Covey, who so wisely wrote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Create open channels of communication by encouraging honesty, transparency and feedback. Take the time to actively listen to what your team members have to say. When it’s your turn to speak, share your opinions calmly and clearly, always reflecting your understanding of your team members’ points of view.
3. Become a swan on a lake…
If you haven’t been doing so already, it’s time to start managing your emotions. An important job of a leader is to maintain an even keel. This is tricky, because leaders are humans too. As a brand new leader, this aspect of the role can be hard to get used to. You may be used to openly venting and expressing extreme emotions—negative or positive. But, as a leader, it’s all about becoming a swan on a lake and maintaining a smooth and graceful exterior (meanwhile kicking hard beneath the surface!). Leadership is about self-control. Never let your emotions overwhelm your judgment or your ability to communicate effectively, as we discussed in point 2.
4. Avoid horses…
Okay, actual horses are great… but but when you get promoted, get off your figurative high horse, stat! Actually, don’t even get on the horse to begin with. A common mistake on the part of new leaders is to start acting like a boss — and not in a good way! When you receive a promotion, the people who were your peers yesterday might technically be your ‘subordinates’ today. This can be a little awkward. The best thing to do is to maintain your humility and ease into role. Never bark orders or give condescending commands just because you have a new title. Approach your new role with empathy for others and your transition will be much smoother.
5. It’s not me, it’s you….
Now that you’re in a leadership role, your daily focus will shift. You’re no longer just responsible for your own actions, emotions, and experiences. Now, your job is to look out for all of the people you lead and manage. Become a servant leader by putting the needs of others first. Invest the time into actively helping your team develop. There are few things more rewarding!
For more leadership tips from Sparta Consulting Group (Hollywood, FL), read our blog!