7 Secrets To Successfully Transitioning To Leadership and Management Roles

Every day and in truth every hour of the day, people are changing their role.   In most organisations, people are identified who are doing a great job.  Over the years I have come across many people who do a great job.  They are promoted into a role where they have to manage or lead.  A few months down the line they are struggling.  People start to question them.  They start to question themselves.  They might lose confidence or even start to experience stress.


You might recognise someone who you have worked with who has experienced some of the above.  In many ways this is not surprising.  If you come from a professional or technical background, moving into a management or leadership role is a big step.


The Transition Challenges


Challenge # 1: Letting Go


When people are promoted into leadership roles, one of the traps they often fall into is continuing to do all of the things they previously did.  They then try to squeeze their managerial and leadership responsibilities into an already full schedule.


Think about it.  You were probably 100% utilised before being promoted.  If you continue to be 100% occupied on what you did previously, how will you make the time to manage or lead?


You need to be willing to let go of things, not just the tasks that you did not like doing but also the stuff you loved doing.


Challenge # 2: Stepping Into Your New Role


When you are promoted into a management or leadership role, you have a new job.  The new job requires you to:


  • Deliver different outcomes


  • Get results through others


  • Manage upward and downwards


While you understand this conceptually, it can often be difficult to step into the new role.


Challenge # 3: Others Agendas   


Imagine you have been providing financial support to one of the areas of an organisation and have been doing a great job.  You have just been promoted to a role that cuts across a range of areas of the business.


It is possible that the area of the organisation that you have been doing a great job for might want you continue to have them as a priority.  They know you, trust you and can rely on you for great service.


It is all too easy to say yes.  The area of the business that you previously supported is happy.  However, what is the impact on you delivering in your new role?


Challenge # 4: Resentment


Every time some gets a job, someone else is unsuccessful. While most people will accept that the selection panel chose the person, who in their opinion was the best candidate for the job, others won’t.


You might find that there is resentment of you.  Your ideas might be blocked or undermined.


Taking the time to understand the views, worries and anxieties of those who are resentful can go a long way to making progress.


 Challenge # 5: Acknowledging Your Development Needs


You might say to yourself that you have been appointed to the role so why would you need to think about development needs.  The truth is that in any selection decision, it is highly unlikely that even the successful candidate will have a tick in every box.


Think about it, if there is no growth opportunity, why would you want the job in the first place?  You also want to keep in mind your future aspirations and career plans.


The 7 Secrets To Successfully Transitioning


Secret # 1: Focus on Your New Role


The first secret of successfully transitioning to leadership is to focus 100% on your new role.


Get absolute clarity on:


  • What you are responsible for delivering


  • How your performance will be measured


  • What people and resource management responsibilities you have


  • The contribution you will be making to business strategy


  • Your role in business planning


  • Decision-making protocols


  • Resolution of problems that arise and the limits of your authority


  • Communication protocols


Once you have clarity, focus all of your energy on what you will be measured on.


Secret # 2: Have The Right People To Support You


You need to recognise that there is only one of you.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot do it all on your own.  It is essential that within a month or two, you have the right people in key posts to support you.


As you progress in your career, make sure that you are identifying and keeping track of people that you want to be part of your top team.


You might think that this is impossible to do and it is true that you need to be creative.  One CEO that I worked with cleared out all of his top team and used secondments to fill the gap.  He leveraged his network and previous relationships to get access to the people that he wanted.  He also looked for people internally who could fill the void until permanent appointments could be made.


I know from my own experience that not getting the right people around me quickly enough was a key learning point.


Secret # 3: Build A Support Network

A senior partner at Ernst & Young once spoke to me about how being a Senior Manager, Director or CEO could be a very lonely place.  I never gave it much thought at the time, but having been a Finance Director I can relate fully to what he was saying.


You have to take tough and sometimes uncomfortable decisions and there are not always a bundle of people standing on the sidelines supporting you.


Having a support network can make all of the difference.  In that network you might have:


  • Directors/Senior Managers in the same profession as you


  • Directors/Senior Managers from other professions


  • A mentor


  • A coach


  • A good PA


Secret # 4: Be Visible


One of the potential differences of being in a senior role is that you will have your own office.  The trouble is that it is all too easy to get to your office in the morning and never leave it till the end of the day.


If you are visible and interacting with people, you get to hear about things, some of them good, some of them not so good.  When you know what is going on and how people are feeling you can start to take action that can easily stop something relatively small becoming a big issue.


Being visible also lets people know that you are interested in them, their views and contributions.


Secret # 5: Take Responsibility


As a leader, your role is to get results.  You need to take 100% responsibility for delivering your part of the business success.  What happens or does not happen is down to you.  While that might not always seem to be fair, you get the rewards for success and so carry some risk.


Secret # 6: Invest In Your Team


In many organisations, one of the phrases that is regularly trotted out is


“People are our greatest asset”


If you invest in your people they definitely can be your greatest asset.


When you start to actively take an interest in your team, you show you care about them and their progress.  The good news is that in terms of motivation, investing in growing your team is probably one of the most cost effective things you can do.


Secret # 7: Keep Developing Yourself


As people reach senior levels in organisations, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of not developing themselves.  In the fast pace business world, things are changing all of the time.  You need to ensure that you are continually updating your skills, knowledge and personal attributes.


It is easy to fall into the trap of believing there is no time to develop yourself.  These days there are so many options open to you that are little or no cost and very time efficient such as:


  • Downloading and listening to podcasts


  • Setting up Google alerts where you are sent regular links to relevant articles, announcements or blogs around your alerts


  • Reading professional journals or business magazines


  • Subscribe to newsletters or e-zines


  • Attend a teleclass


  • Listen to an audio book


  • Read one chapter a week of a leadership book


  • Go to a seminar or talk


  • Go to an industry conference


  • Get a mentor or coach


Goals and Achievements help healthcare organisations develop their leaders and managers.  Learn more here