New leaders. What are their challenges?

There is something both intriguing and slightly anxiety provoking about newly minted leaders. We know that seldomly do new leaders take the same path to get to where they have arrived, although there may be some common experiences which landed them their title. We also know that some leaders who were put into the position, clearly do not belong there. Perhaps not now, or ever.

Consider a leader you may have worked for that was relatively “green” or less experienced than other leaders you have been associated with. Were there aspects about the approach to how they lead others that you either were impressed by, or were somewhat skeptical of? How was their communication style? Did you have any concerns about how they conveyed information, or did their style lend itself to being acceptable on most levels? What about their grasp of being open-minded and humble enough to accept the fact they were going to need a fair amount of support to guide them? Both in their early days as a leader, and then by their trusted advisors as time goes by.

My experience of working with people who are placed into leadership roles that were not given support resources in their early days, either by choice, or from their lack of awareness for need to have this support in place have not fared as well as the leaders who were given support. Even in some cases minor support. They also benefitted from having support which came in a variety of different formats (e.g., expertise in the areas of strategy, finance, management, sales, culture and communication) to name some of the key areas.

The leaders who didn’t either have access to, or refused to have support due to being overly confident in their abilities are the ones who not far into their leadership role, quickly became overwhelmed. They also often struggle with their communication and management abilities, and worse, made less than sound and rational decisions when they were under the immense pressure they were facing. Of course, these challenges lead to other challenges, which include having difficulty with building trust amongst not only their team they lead, but this had a trickle-down effect. As you might imagine, not the one they would want to continue.

One of the aspects I have always been puzzled by with new leaders, is their overzealous optimism that they have all the experience they need to be deemed fully competent on day one. Realistically no one is, but being humble about this is not only realistic and appreciated by those they are leading, but it also affords them the opportunity to ramp up faster. How? Because the people who are supporting them are more willing to do so because of what I’ll refer to as a refreshing leadership approach or style that appeals to others because it is a more inclusive leadership style. A style that distributes responsibilities and offers people a way to quickly feel more united as a team, as they are working more collaboratively from the onset.

Of course, there is a fair amount of trust the new leader will have to grant to their teams when their style is oriented more towards collaboration, but I have seen this approach work brilliantly, and with minimal downsides. One of the reasons, is due to the fact that it becomes quickly apparent when leadership responsibilities are distributed, who is, or who isn’t pulling their weight, or equally contributing to the organization’s or teams’ collective goals. This isn’t a style that most newly minted leaders are comfortable with, as they often make the classic mistake of trying to do too many things on their own without support. Perhaps they may have done so when they were in an individual contributor role, or had fewer people to manage and lead. I’ve seen this management regression style occur too many times, and the ending is never the one which is desirable.

So, are there actions new leaders can take to help set them up for early success? Yes, there absolutely are, and here are some suggestions on how they can do this.

  • Set-up a small group of outside advisors you can meet with who will be able to provide you with reasonable, objective and actionable advice in a very timely manner.
  • Take note of some less than desirable management actions you resort to when you are under pressure, and come up with a few methods to course correct your actions when you begin to see this occurring.
  • Are you fully aware of your management style, or have you even fully defined what your style is?
  • If you do not have a style that you are aware of, or if it is one that you would like to improve upon, what can you do within the next few weeks to redefine your style? Consider whether you will be able to make these changes on your own, or with some others supporting you. Either internally or externally.
  • On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how would you rate your level of being open-minded?
  • Have you determined what your level of awareness is in terms of how you impact others by way of your own skills in the areas of motivation, collaboration, communication and performance?
  • How concerned are you in terms of the level of risk of your success in your first few years as a leader?
  • Have you defined what your own metrics will be to determine what success will look like for you? It may or may not be in alignment with what others you are leading deem to be acceptable, realistic or achievable.
  • Don’t be afraid or concerned about asking for help. You are going to need more support than you think you will, and by all means, please accept and embrace it.

Even though others want you to be successful, make sure you set yourself up for success by putting people and methods in place which will help to both mitigate your risk of failure, and more importantly, set you up for the success you desire to achieve and have worked really long and hard to get to the point of being in your new leadership role.

TAGS: #Leadership #Success #Motivation #Communication #Teams #Strategy #Embracingsupport #Embracinghelp #Achievement #Awareness #Selfawareness #Leadershipstyle

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