You’re climbing the ladder. You’ve become an expert in your field, trusted by your colleagues. Now, you have an uphill battle, so to speak, ahead of you.
Like a mountain peak, the looming responsibilities of management can be daunting. Rather than managing your own workload, you’re scheduling, monitoring, and ensuring the well-being of an entire team.
Below, you will find a step-by-step guide to help you transition from the role of an individual contributor to an empathetic and galvanizing leader.
From how to word management skills on your resume to how to motivate your team, the words you choose have the power to hold you back or propel you forward.
Consider an example. Which is a more convincing statement: “I am attempting to manage or “I am a manager.” No doubt, the latter is more convincing. Eliminate apologetic language, and embrace descriptive words and action verbs.
On the other hand, as a manager or leader, you must realize that your words aren’t the only ones that have power. Practice active listening when conversing with your team, other company leaders, and even disgruntled customers. Focus on what’s being said rather than on what you will say next. Ask questions.
You don’t have to build your leadership strategies from scratch, using trial and error. You can examine the strategies of renowned leaders like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Walt Disney. Read or listen to self-help books designed to impart leadership skills.
Don’t limit yourself to learning from afar. Follow leaders you admire on LinkedIn; reach out and connect with them. They don’t have to be famous. There are no doubt experienced managers within your professional network.
Consider attending seminars or workshops where you can learn first-hand from today’s top leaders.
In the previous section, we discussed how you can learn from successful leaders. But as you enter your managerial position, it is time to start sharing your knowledge with others as well. Mentor your team members. Share your knowledge and experiences. Offer guidance when challenges arise, and celebrate their successes with them.
In so doing, you will form a relationship of loyalty and trust with your team. You can further display your trust in them—and prepare them for future advancement—by delegating responsibilities. Provide clear instructions. Make sure they have the skills and tools to accomplish their tasks, then let them get to it. Resist the urge to micromanage.
The result? You’ll benefit your team’s morale and productivity while freeing up more of your own time for strategic leadership.
Above, we’ve already discussed the power of the words you choose and the need to listen actively. But communication is a topic worth revisiting. Why? Because open and clear communication is a cornerstone of team success.
First, create an environment in which your team members feel comfortable speaking openly with you. That means you need to take the time to listen to their concerns; don’t appear distracted or annoyed. Guard your responses, especially when presented with unpleasant information. Don’t raise your voice or lose your temper. Regularly ask for feedback and suggestions.
Hand in hand with this, you should make sure your communication with your team is clear and understandable. Follow up conversations with emails so that everyone has a written record to reference. Frequently provide thoughtful feedback.
An appreciative and supportive company culture can help you mold your team into a happy, productive tribe. Acknowledge individual accomplishments. Set group goals, and celebrate milestones reached. Recognition is a powerful motivator, and you will likely see team members reaching for even greater accomplishments.
Lifelong learning is important to staying ahead of the curve as a leader. The details of what you study will differ depending on your field and responsibilities. You may need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology, scientific breakthroughs, industry-accepted methods, or viral trends.
To do so, take classes, read industry journals, and attend industry events. Encourage your team to do the same. Make reading materials and training courses readily available.
While it’s true that these tips—building your confidence and your vocabulary, mentoring and seeking mentors, delegation, increased communication, lifelong learning, and building a productive culture—may involve change on your part, it is important that you maintain your authentic self.
Transitioning into management doesn’t mean leaving behind one version of yourself and putting on another. Instead, view these small changes as helping you become your best self. Lead with authenticity.
Embrace your weaknesses as well as your strengths; don’t be afraid to admit to failure or lack of knowledge. Turn these events into teaching moments. Set the example by seeking self-improvement and skill-building, always moving forward toward success.