It’s a clear compliment to be chosen to take charge – but it can also be nerve-wracking to have that much responsibility laid on your shoulders. There are ropes to learn, responsibilities to juggle, and expectations are coming at you from those above and those below.
You need to earn your team’s trust, earn your superiors’ confidence, and start rocking your new role – and you need to do it fast. After you’ve been promoted to a leadership role, how can you quickly go from getting a handle on your the position to being the best you can be?
Understand how success is measured
The first step to being the best leader you can is to know exactly what’s expected of you, and what constitutes success – both for you personally and for the department or team you’re now in charge of. What are the overall goals and expectations? What targets are you expected to achieve? When the time comes for your performance review, what topics will be covered?
Take a long, hard look at your department’s and organization’s goals. These are your goals, now, too.
Once you understand what you’re trying to achieve, take responsibility for it. The weight of success or failure may not all be on your shoulders, but taking responsibility whatever the outcome will gain you the respect of those around you.
Understand your team
One of your biggest assets for success is your team. The people under your command will have crucial insights into tactics that work and pitfalls to avoid. Schedule interviews and one-on-one meetings to get to know them, and be sure to take a genuine interest in their ideas and what their experience with the organization has been.
Set early expectations for clear communication about problems, goals, and status updates. Intentional communication from the get go is crucial if you want to avoid problems down the road.
As you get to know your team, bonding outside work can help cement your relationships – but be careful not to forget that you’re their leader 100% of the time, whether inside the office or at a barbecue.
Seek – and hand out – advice
A mentor can be a great asset when going into any new role, but especially when heading into a role with greater responsibility. Seek out someone, either within your organization or elsewhere, who has the experience and knowledge to give you pointers. (Check out this post on finding a government mentor to learn how.)
As a leader, you’re also in a position to mentor those who report to you. Be open and honest about your struggles, tactics, and challenges, and be generous in imparting the lessons you’re learning along the road. You’ll be surprised how much mentoring can teach you.
This may sound like a no-brainer tip in a post about leadership roles, but taking leadership is more than being in control. Great leadership is about service: service to the organization’s goals, the team’s needs, and the public.
A great leader is more like a guide – the one with the vision and forward thinking to get things done, who understands the organization’s and department’s goals, and is working to guide those under her leadership into fulfilling those goals. A great leader inspires a sense of trust and confidence in those she’s leading, rather than micromanaging those underneath her.
Bring something new to the table
You were chosen to lead not just because you’re doing a good job, but also because of your unique vision. Your initial moments of leadership aren’t necessarily the time to go shaking everything up, but once you have a handle on the situation and your new role, take advantage of your fresh perspective to tackle problems within your department.
You’ll learn about some of these problems from talking with your team; you’ll probably notice some on your own; and you may be alerted to issues by those who hired you for the role. Become known as an innovative leader who gets things done, and you’ll be rocking your role in no time.