• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

The leadership transitions: From peer to leader (2)

Leadership is about serving humanity

Making the shift from peer to leader is akin to a metamorphosis. It’s not just about a new title or a change in the organisational chart; it’s about a fundamental transformation in how you view your work, your colleagues, and yourself. The learning curve that comes with this transition can be steep, but with a developmental mindset, the right resources, and a commitment to continuous learning, new managers can scale it effectively.

The first step on this journey is to adopt a developmental mindset. This means accepting that you don’t have all the answers and that failure, at times, is an invaluable teacher. A developmental mindset allows you to view the leadership transition as a continuous process of growth. This mindset encourages curiosity, open-mindedness, and resilience, all critical traits for a new manager.

Fortunately, first-time managers are not left to navigate this transition alone. Many resources are available to facilitate their development:

Self-Assessments: Tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the StrengthsFinder can help you understand your leadership style and areas for improvement. Reflecting on your communication skills, decision-making processes, and conflict-resolution strategies can provide a baseline for your leadership development.

Training Programs: Many organisations offer leadership development programs to help new managers acquire the necessary skills. These programs often cover topics like team building, performance management, and strategic thinking.

Coaching: Seeking a coach, either internally or externally, can provide personalised guidance and support. Coaches can help you navigate complex situations, offer feedback, and hold you accountable for your growth.

The Leadership Transitions Report 2021 underscores the importance of such resources, highlighting that managers who engage in continuous learning are more likely to succeed. This includes actively seeking out new experiences, challenges, and feedback to refine one’s leadership abilities.

 “A developmental mindset allows you to view the leadership transition as a continuous process of growth.”

Industry experts often emphasise that confidence is built through competence. This means that as you develop and refine your skills, your self-assurance as a leader will grow. Some tips for building this competence include:

Learning from Others: Seek out role models within your organisation or industry. Observe their leadership styles, and how they handle challenges and communicate with their teams.

Practice decision making: Start with small decisions and work your way up as you grow more confident in your judgement.

Handling conflict: Don’t shy away from conflict. Use it as an opportunity to develop your negotiation and problem-solving skills.

Time management: Learn to prioritise tasks and delegate effectively to manage your time and resources better.

A structured approach to personal development can help you stay focused on your goals as a new leader:

SMART goals: Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals for your leadership development. This framework for setting personal goals is not static; it should evolve as you progress in your leadership journey.

Feedback loop: Establish a process for getting regular feedback from your team, peers, and supervisors to inform your progress.

Mentorship: Identify a mentor within your organisation who can provide advice, share experiences, and help you navigate your new role.

The ascent to leadership or management roles is undoubtedly challenging, but it is also an opportunity for significant personal and professional growth. By embracing a developmental mindset, leveraging available resources, and continuously seeking improvement, new managers can transform the learning curve from a daunting obstacle into a path of discovery.

The transition into leadership is a continuous journey. As a new manager, you should commit to lifelong learning. This doesn’t merely mean keeping up with industry trends or the latest management techniques; it involves a deeper, more reflective form of growth that touches on emotional intelligence, adaptability, and the ability to inspire and motivate others.

One of the less discussed, yet critical, aspects of leadership is managing your own emotions and well-being. Leadership can be isolating, and the pressure can be intense. Recognising when you need to step back, recharge, or seek support is vital. Self-care is a leadership skill, as your team needs you to be at your best.

As you grow into your leadership role, be prepared to adapt. The strategies that work today may not work tomorrow, and part of your role is to be agile and responsive to change. Embrace feedback, even when it’s uncomfortable, as it’s one of the most direct routes to personal improvement. Cultivate a culture of transparency where feedback is welcomed and valued.

Next, take time to celebrate the milestones and successes, both your own and those of your team. Recognizing achievements is a powerful way to build morale and reinforce positive behaviours. It also reminds you of the progress you have made and the impact of your leadership.

Remember, the journey from peer to leader is one of the most significant transitions in any professional’s career. It is not just about managing tasks; it’s about leading people, and that begins with leading oneself. Hence, it comes with its set of challenges, but also with the promise of growth and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on your organisation and the people within it. By approaching this transition with a mindset geared towards development, a well-utilised array of resources, and an openness to continuous learning, you can rise to the occasion and lead with confidence, competence, and a sense of purpose.

Do look out for a continuation of this article next week.

Dr Toye Sobande is a strategic leadership expert, lawyer, public speaker, and trainer. He is the CEO of Stephens Leadership Consultancy LLC, a strategy and management consulting firm offering creative insight and solutions to businesses and leaders.

Email: [email protected]