Are You Afraid You're Not Doing the Whole Leader Thing Right? Stop Worrying.

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Early in my career, I was promoted and overnight, I was a manager with a team of new direct reports. Thrown into a new role with a team to go along with it was a difficult transition. My boss thought I was ready, so that was that. While I was focusing on the tactical and operational responsibilities of my new role, I was struggling with the nuances of the whole leadership thing. I questioned myself daily and agonized over my decisions. I was anxious, lost sleep, and worried that somehow, I wasn't doing it "right." So, I found myself at the library (before Internet) looking for answers and career advice. It was there I learned about leadership theories, traits and styles, and talked myself off the proverbial ledge. 

Of course, that was decades ago, but I find many individuals continue to be thrown into new roles without coaching, mentoring, or training. So it's no surprise new leaders worry if they are in fact doing "it" right. Whereas leadership courses or programs are immensely helpful, it shouldn't thwart your efforts to develop your leadership skills if they are unavailable at your company. You have the power to take control and gain the knowledge and confidence you need. It takes time and requires a great deal of introspection and feedback, but it won't cost you a dime. And, it’s worth the time and effort, because when you treat people differently, you have less managing to do. If you change your approach and day-to-day behavior, your team becomes more receptive.

New leaders can gain confidence by understanding who they are, how they stack up against effective leadership traits, and what their team needs and expects in a leader. So read on to discover Your Office Mom's insight and get some work advice that will help you in your new role.  

Increase your self-awareness

Any new leader can benefit from greater self-awareness, and one of the best ways to gain it is with a personality questionnaire or assessment. Understanding yourself and others goes a long way in simplifying interpersonal dynamics when you're leading a diverse team. 

Do some research

When new leaders learn about leadership through observation and research (articles, books, or courses), they can start to validate their strengths and focus on their opportunities for improvement. Knowing what behaviors and actions to demonstrate day-to-day is essential to the process, but you don’t want to haphazardly change what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Learn from the experts.

Ask your team for feedback

Many leaders are afraid of what their team thinks. They are wary of asking for feedback because it might look like they don’t know what the hell they are doing. By asking direct reports for feedback as part of 1:1 meetings, for example, new leaders can get immediate and actionable insights about their leadership. Leadership is fluid. It changes based on your followers. What works with one team, may not be appreciated by another.

Do more leading, less managing

I know from experience, if you get the whole leadership thing down, some of your managerial tasks diminish. Why? Because team members have most of the answers, they want to be involved in the solution, and usually, the only thing holding them back is their leader. So it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) when you treat people differently and involve them, you have less managing to do. If you change your approach and day-to-day behavior, your team becomes more receptive.

This is what works for me and many others, but do you have any other suggestions?