Congratulations on your selection to a new leadership role! Whether you were promoted from within because of your dedication and hard work, or an outsider who was brought in because of your unique background and training, you landed this position. Your hard work, dedication and commitment have paid off and now your experience and skills are going to help you in your new role. It is wonderful to know that others, especially those with higher positions in the company, think you have what it takes to make a positive impact leading a team of people to accomplish your company’s vision and mission.
Now that you are in this new and exciting position, what do you plan to do with it? In other words, you have been granted a position of power, so how do you plan to handle your new responsibility? In fact, just what is your responsibility anyway?
Too often we see, and have probably had to work for, new leaders who come into their positions without a clue as to how to lead people. These new leaders try to lead their teams from their titles, and not through the influence it takes to inspire action in a positive direction. Any leader who states, “Because I said so”, or “You have to follow me because I’m the boss” is really letting us know that they don’t have the foggiest idea on how to lead you or your teammates. Sadly, they are also letting us know that they are more concerned with their position and status rather than your success as a viable team member.
As a new leader, you must first come to the realization that it is no longer about you! The best and most effective leaders in any business or industry are the ones that put the well-being and success of their team members ahead of themselves. Leadership is all about influencing others to better themselves, the team, and thus the company. Think about the best leaders you’ve known: Did they know the technical aspects of the business? Probably. Did they reach their position because of hard work and dedication, like you? Sure. But think about what made them such a great leader…wasn’t it the way they treated you and your teammates? Simply put, they cared about you and your development as a person. Now it is your turn to use your new platform to do the same for your team!
The first priority for new leaders is to get to know your people. How well do you know the people who work for you? More importantly, how well do you know them beyond their contributions to the team? Do you know about their families? Do you know about their hobbies? How in-tune are you to their dreams and aspirations? Getting to know your people is the best way to connect with them on a real level. It may not make much sense, but believe me, it carries far more weight in your ability to influence them than your job title ever will. Start by dedicating just 15 or 20 minutes each day, individually, helping a subordinate accomplish a task. As you are serving them by helping them, talk with them about their families, hobbies, and their dreams and aspirations. If you will commit to doing this daily for a few weeks, it will become easier to do and you will start to see immediate positive responses to your leadership. As a whole, your team will respond to you and follow your leadership because they want to, not just out of obligation.
This blog is dedicated to helping all newly appointed leaders in every industry understand what it means to lead people. We will dig into the differences between managers and leaders. We will discover how to lead beyond your job title and why it is vital to your success. We will also explore how you can use ages old, but still very effective, leadership principles and techniques to properly influence the people you are charged with leading to action.
With over 25 years of leadership experience in multiple industries, from the military to retail, I will share with you lessons I’ve learned along the way. As author John C. Maxwell says, “Leadership is simple, but it’s not easy”. Trust me, this is a very true statement. I have fallen and skinned my knees on this leadership journey so many times, that I now can see many of the tripping hazards along the way. My goal is to guide you as you start your path on this long and exciting, ever challenging and highly rewarding leadership road!
We will explore other techniques for getting to know your people in future posts. In the meantime, please feel free to share your leadership experiences and “lessons learned” in the comments section. This blog space is dedicated to helping new leaders better understand leadership. I look forward to corresponding with you and watching you develop into strong leaders!