It is exciting to move into a leadership role, whether it is as first time (as a supervisor, preceptor, manager, physician- or nurse-leader as division chief, department and unit or team lead, etc., or as an executive) or a seasoned leader promoted. With the excitement of professional advancement, there can be simultaneously a sense of “angst” usually regarding expectations whether for yourself, by those around you, below you and above you! You are setting out on a path that may be totally new terrain, even if you have been in the same workplace for years.
Prior to obtaining the new role/position, you may have looked from afar at leaders you admired and marveled at how they made it seem so easy … and also grimaced at poor, ineffective leaders who you could easily spot, and in fact you shook your head at their weaknesses and flaws.
Now it is your time to lead and this article shares five potential keys in leading others, especially for those new to leading, which may not have been explicitly stated to you when you took the role/position. Most leaders don’t come into the position with written guidelines on how to lead your group. They may have the technical awareness and skills about leading and be more sluggish on the soft, “people” skills. Sure you may have taken courses, trainings, workshops, and read profusely on leadership and various ways to manage others. All of this is very helpful in building a fund of knowledge, as well as in preparing your mindset by providing perspective. Now it is time to see how you are able to apply “on the ground” your learnings in your day-to-day work environment.
LEAD coaching and consulting services believes that coaching become a superb assistance in integrating, supporting and stretching emerging, new or seasoned leaders in buffing up their skills, perspectives and organizational navigational abilities and people skills by working with the leader from the inside out (e.g., understanding of self and impact, etc.,).
We, at LEAD, believe in some simple approaches to accelerate the leader’s adjustment into his/her role. These tips are not inextinguishable but are fundamental concepts and behavioral keys to begin with and keep in the leader’s mind.
You are no longer ‘just’ a solo contributor.
- The mindset shifts to moving from productivity that you produce to also the productivity of the group. This includes being aware of other people’s approaches, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the overall business goals and mission of the team, group or organization.
The same communication style used as a team member may not work in leading others.
- The mindset shifts to remember that you are now interacting and talking with many different types of people who bring rich cultural backgrounds, familial and community history that all tie into the people you are managing or leading, especially in team environments. Your ability to flex toward these differences can be very helpful in reducing miscommunications, conflicts, and being perceived as caring and supportive to the eyes looking at you. Your focus becomes one of how can I communicate this [fill in the blank] so the person will receive or act on what I am saying?
Your neurochemistry affects those around you.
- The mindset shifts to understanding that my attitude, beliefs, statements, behaviors and non-verbal are not just communicated verbally but also energetically to those around you. Your frustrations (said or unsaid), your angst (uncertainty) and irritabilities along with your joys and excitements are like a loud speaker on a soccer field communicating the game. We just don’t communicate verbally but also energetically and behavioral-wise which often is louder and has far-reaching consequences in the lives of those reporting to you. Your neurochemistry, which shows up in your style of communication (which we call the third dimension of communication), can be a major reason why people around and above you trust, have guardedly trust, or “down right” distrust you.
Stop being addicted to being right, 24/7.
- The mindset shifts to I don’t need to know “everything” or make all decisions. There is a fund of knowledge and skill-set certainly helpful in leading, but you can tap into the collective resources around you. Being so addicted to being right or your way of doing things, whether consciously or unconsciously, equals “power or control over others” in how you, for instance make decisions and implement those decisions. In the 21st century, this is less tolerated by staff and employees, who prefer leaders focused on cultivating “power with others,” being collaborative in nature and preferring a leader who can make the tough decisions once all information or input has been gathered and synthesized.
Be willing to regularly engage in self-reflection.
- The mindset shifts from being so busy in getting tasks done, answering emails, responding to request, attending meetings, managing team dynamics and handling interpersonal problems that you lose sight of the bigger picture that it is beneficial to carve out reflection time about on past, present and future behaviors to grow, make shifts in attitude, interpersonal dynamics, and fine tune yourself and your approach in leading.
LEAD coaches work with new and seasoned leaders in fine turning who they are, what they are about and how to manage the people reporting to them. This applies to whether leading in a formal and informal role. LEAD coaches believe you can be only as good as you take the time to work on your leadership presence and fine tuning your behavior. To move from a good leader to an exceptional leader consider working with a LEAD coach who supports, encourages, stretches and inspires you to be your best self at work and home.
For more information please visit the Duke Professional and Personal Development Program (PPDP) and Leadership and Enhancement Development (LEAD) Coaching and Consulting Services website or contact Program Director Judith Holder at Judith.Holder@duke.edu or (919) 286-1244.
Articles are written by experienced executive, leadership, performance, communication, interpersonal, wellness and life coaches with behavioral health backgrounds and training in social and emotional intelligence, work-related stress and life span development.