Six Critical Leadership Actions to Develop for Career Advancement
New to a leadership role within your organization? Stepping into a new executive
position for the first time? You want to succeed, have experience, and are a
subject matter expert, but being a leader is a new ball of wax. While you may
have read books on leadership or been through leadership training, now you need
to deliver. This is not just about your success but how you ensure success for
your team or organization.
Starting as a new or early-stage leader can be exciting and challenging. Yet many new leaders struggle to transition into their new role, are uncertain of how to lead, and are unsure what specific actions they need to take. They know what work needs to be accomplished but are unclear on how to establish and confirm their leadership role.
As one of my clients shared, " Though I had run an NGO for several years, I had never reflected on my leadership skills structurally and always trusted my common sense and intuition. However, in this new position, there were more eyes on me, …and I felt this challenge to 'prove' myself as a leader, to myself, to the team, and to external actors. "His reflection is not unusual among new leaders and leaders moving into new organizations. We all want to succeed from the beginning of our assignments and feel it's essential to establish credibility and authority.
Having led several international teams and organizations, and in my consulting and coaching work with purpose-driven executives, I have seen new leaders struggle with moving into a leadership role with purpose and intention. I always advise that they start the position how they plan to finish it. As a new leader, you must take the time, make an effort to reflect, and have an action plan that will set you and your team or organization up for success.
As a leader, six critical actions will help you succeed in your new leadership role:
1. Set a clear vision and goals: What do you hope to achieve for your organization? How will the organization or your project be different? Identify your organization's goals and set achievable targets that align with your mission. Communicate these goals with your team and stakeholders, and develop a clear plan to achieve them.
2. Build a strong team: Hire the right people, build a diverse group, and
provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. Encourage
open communication and collaboration, and empower team members to take
ownership of their work. Invest time and talent in defining and designing your
organization's values and how you will work together. Remember that all highly
successful teams are built on a solid foundation of trust. It takes time and
concerted effort to establish trust at all levels of an organization.
3. Prioritize communication: Establish a clear communication plan for your organization, every project, and all major initiatives. Over and over again, lack of clear and frequent communication is where leaders fail. You cannot over-communicate, especially in diverse, multigenerational workplaces. Inform your team and stakeholders about significant developments. Encourage two-way communication opportunities, seek and provide constant feedback, and create an open-door policy and listening sessions to help build trust and transparency. Effective communications require a commitment to openness, frequency, and emotional intelligence.
4. Focus on learning: Embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning
from your successes, mistakes, and failures. Seek mentorship and feedback,
consider working with a professional coach, and invest in professional development for you and your team.
During periods of significant change or transformation in my teams, I
have often used DiSC assessments and facilitated workshops and other tools and
training programs to help individuals learn more about themselves and their
colleagues and to create a shared 'language' to build enhanced collaborations and
communications across an organization.
5. Stay adaptable and agile: Be flexible and open to change, and be prepared to pivot your organization's strategies and tactics. Embrace innovation and experimentation, learn from your failures, and be willing to take calculated risks to achieve your goals.
6. Be resilient: Leading an organization, a project, or a team can be challenging, and setbacks and failures are inevitable. Develop resilience and be prepared to persevere through difficult times while maintaining a positive outlook and focusing on your impact.
Learning to lead is a journey. By staying focused on your vision and goals, building a solid team, prioritizing communication, focusing on learning, staying adaptable, and being resilient, you can set yourself and organization up for long-term success and impact.