So you got the call, had the meetings, looked at all your options, spoken to loved ones, signed the contract and now it’s your very first day. Well as a leader that is! Congratulations. How are you feeling on this important first day?
In today’s blog we are sharing thoughts, insights and real-life examples on stepping from a manager to a leader and as a coach how this might be achieved.
Written by Nick Roud, Master Certified Executive Coach. 1st November 2019.
I’d love you to think back with me………..
Remember back to that feeling you had when you were dropped off for your first day at school? ‘See you later, have fun and play nicely’ (words of encouragement shared by your parents!)
Remember that very first time you walked into your class room, only to be greeted with a sudden silence and turn of heads to see who was walking into the room.
Remember that very first time you walked into the dinner hall, carrying your tray looking for a smile and acknowledgment from someone to say ‘hay its ok, you can sit with me’.
Fast forwards a few years to today, only this time there are no parents standing alongside you, you are very much alone with your own thoughts (am I good enough, should I have waited another year, how am I going to make this work, why am I doing this?) - so many thoughts that any of us will have.
So how do you prepare, excel and naturally grow into your leadership position?
That class room has turned into the board room, full of fellow high achievers looking at you for that single moment of inspiration when teams become united together.
That dinner hall is now the closest restaurant / coffee shop where you can spend a mere 5mins to regroup and capture your thoughts away from the constant messages, urgent meetings, deadlines and oh yes – the expectation.
All those feelings come rushing back and it’s now time, time for you as leader to step on up and take your turn at the helm. For many years, probably from the time you left school you have dreamt of this moment, you have worked so relentlessly on your career, given up so many things, missed so many family events, all in the pursuit of this very moment, the moment you step/(leap) from a Manager to Leader.
When coaching those individuals that are transitioning from manager to leader some common themes are shared with me.
· How did this happen?
· What have I done to deserve this?
· Should I have listened to ‘others’ and just turned the opportunity down?
· I am not ready?
· What if I muck this up will it be the end of my career?
· Am I good enough?
But as humans we are strong. We are resilient and innovative, which will result in us finding a way.
An important aspect to mention early on in our blog today and as I get further evidence from coaching leaders is this;
‘How are you supporting/controlling your top 2 inches’?
I find that when we peel back the onion to look deep inside – one of the key ingredients to stepping from a Manager to a Leader is confidence. Take that word for one minute if you can ‘confidence’. Please do not mix up ‘confidence’ with ‘arrogance’ those senior leaders who are ‘arrogant’ may only last a very short time and the ability to claw your way back up may well be hindered. So what makes you feel ‘confident’?
When speaking with experienced leaders, board members and chairs it is how that individual brings and shows up with his or her ‘confidence’ that sometimes makes or breaks an organisation. Sure you are going to have good days, and bad days. Sure you are going to tough decisions to make as a leader but never underestimate the feeling or belief you have in who you are. What has gone into making you, your childhood, the people you are close to, those that have supported, nurtured – encouraged and backed you, these all go into who you are today.
When looking at your own confidence levels and how these fluctuate across a year notice what might be causing these ebbs and flows (gather a journal to document these feelings). Looking from a seat of trust, I get to see close hand how these ebbs and flows can, and do, impact on a leader. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not the be all or end all but I am confident that taking the time to maintain a healthy relationship with one’s own confidence will certainly support you as you transition from a manager to a leader.
Recently I finished working with a CEO on the Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching Program I run. Towards the end of our ‘official’ time together, the CEO turned to me and said,
“Nick I have worked on so many important areas of my leadership and we have many reports, assessments etc done, these are now sitting in a folder! How can I capture this on a one pager so I can use and share with my people, managers, board members etc?”
So, we looked at producing a one pager a kind of ‘User-Manual’
Over the 9 months that we had worked together he had around 70 hours of coaching and as said gathered many critical aspects to his own leadership, from online assessments, stakeholder conversations, 260 and 360 reports, individual leadership plans, his purpose, various reading materials and notes from our sessions. This huge folder was hundreds of pages in length so it made sense to look at bringing this to life (something I may do when working with other leaders from now on…..isn’t it great to keep learning!!)
So in his own personal ‘user manual’ we bought together specific things he could share and that would demonstrate to others very quickly who he was as a person and as a leader. The one pager included
· Evidence of his leadership approach
· A view of his strengths and weaknesses
· What is his core purpose
· Who he is as a leader
· 260 & 360 stakeholder survey results (snapshot)
· How he liked to work
· A beautiful picture of him and some other key things that were important to him.
It was wonderful to see such energy and passion from this CEO as he sat down with key stakeholders and shared this very meaningful document with them, it was like he was passing his new born child to be held by someone for the very first time. People commented to me after that meeting that they thought they knew who he was as a leader but this had gone to a whole new level. What powerful and wonderful work - Great work!
So, as we progress on with our blog today, how are you going to share your story past and future to those you have the privilege of leading?
In previous blogs we have shared insights of those who are in the privileged position of leading and why they are in such a position – just to re share those few little nuggets include:
· ‘ability to bring people together no matter who they are or where they are from’.
· ‘communication skill set is authentic’
· ‘ability to think – pursue your passions and have the confidence’
· ‘high level of empathy that not only allows others to shine but this ripple effect flows thru the very heart of your business’ I liken this to the complete opposite of a toxic work force!
So here lies the focus for you as you transition from manager to leader.
1) Who am I?
2) What is my purpose?
3) How great a leader can I be?
a. Therefore how will this empower those around me onto greater success?
4) What will I do to leave this business better?
It goes without saying that as the leader you will from today no longer be a ‘subject matter guru’ you will need to wear many different hats - some may fit exceptionally well, others may be a tad tight or a bit lose. At times over the years to come as you continue to grow and mature these multiple hats will start to feel more comfortable. You will no longer be protected from above, the success or failings will be in your and your closest reports hands. Everyone is looking at you for…………….(what)? Without clarity first and foremost from yourself – you may well be facing a losing battle trying to lead others.
It’s important that you get to grips with who you are as a leader. Take time early on to work on you.
I recently did an ‘audit’ on my business Roud Career Coaching, as I was interested to understand why senior executives work with me. It boiled down to a couple of key aspects. As a business owner who spends every day coaching others it is very important to me to keep a clear focus on my long term objective with peoples views.
As you celebrate your wonderful news and think about all the effort you have put into your career don’t underestimate how impactful it will be for you and so many others if you are as ‘authentic’ a leader you can possibly be.
Truly great leaders are those who put time aside to work on themselves whilst juggling many other demands that they face.
If you are interested in learning more about leadership, I invite you to check out my leadership program, Intelligent Leadership Coaching Program available to leaders who want to make a difference.