Newly Promoted? Three Challenges and Practices

Congratulations! This is the big assignment you were waiting for.  You’ve earned this promotion and can’t wait to get started.  The opportunity to build a legacy is exhilarating yet can sometimes be overwhelming, given the volatility and complexity of today’s organizational and business challenges.

The transition from an individual contributor on a team to the leader can give even the savviest high performer many agonizing moments.  Kimball Fisher, co-author of “Tips for Teams,” (McGraw-Hill, 1995) suggests that this unique transition requires that you (the leader) instantly and with little preparation become, “a facilitator, boundary-definer, interface manager and business analyzer.” Newly Promoted? Three Challenges and Practices

Can you juggle all these complex, conflicting, time-consuming roles confidently and seamlessly?  To do so competently, it might help to look at the three challenges that are common across leadership roles in different industries. It may also be helpful to consider three practices that have helped people make this transition with confidence.

CHALLENGE: The strengths that made you successful in your role as an individual contributor might become liabilities in your new one.  This paradox is essential to understanding the distinction between authority and influence.  People follow leaders who are:

  • Able to succinctly explain a higher-level perspective of organizational issues and decisions – beyond the narrower scope of earlier assignments
  • Able to showcase transparency, honesty and credibility in each conversation and interaction – beyond ONE functional area in the business
  • Able to create networks of mutual support across the organization from janitor to executives – beyond immediate colleagues and stakeholders

PRACTICE: Build Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Dr. Laura Belsten defines emotional intelligence as the ability to become aware, in the moment, of our emotions and to use that information to manage our behavior and  relationships.  Sounds easy in theory, doesn’t it?  Most of us would agree that we rarely see ourselves as others see us.  We also tend to judge ourselves by our intentions while judging others by their actions, showing a disparity in our ability to communicate.  Three questions to ask in coaching conversations about authority and influence include:

  • Which strengths (that brought you here) might hold you back in your new role?
  • Which behaviors must “show-up” consistently and clearly in each and every interaction?
  • What does a leader at your level of hierarchy and in your organization do consistently?

CHALLENGE:  Individual contributions demand a high level of specialization and skill development.  The reason you were promoted is rooted in this excellence and your superior attention to results.  With an expanded role:

  • You can’t do it all – the broader impact of your work requires delegation
  • You deal with greater ambiguity and complexity – there is a higher vulnerability to fail
  • You create success through others – the politics are tougher and scrutiny is more intense

PRACTICE:  Recognize your work preferences.  The Harrison Assessment is a best practice tool used to help leaders identify their work preferences.  There are three intriguing questions I use with this assessment in coaching conversations:

  • How might your current work style create success or hinder progress in the new role?
  • What behaviors might continue to be a liability and how can you identify alternative solutions?
  • How can you expand your toolkit with this heightened self-reflection and awareness?

CHALLENGE:  Collegiality and collaboration are peculiarly different in new leadership.  While you are driving collegial decisions and team efforts, some decision-making can be lonely.  New Leaders we coach, share:

  • “I am so used to adding immediate value” – giving up direct ownership of results is difficult
  • “I was the expert in my group” – each day brings up things I don’t know
  • “I feel awkward asking for help” – what if I am seen as incompetent?

PRACTICE: Strengthen your willingness to have an open mind and an open heart. Do this with patience, humility, perseverance and intention.   I particularly enjoy helping leaders navigate this rewarding and remarkable journey.  Why work with a certified career coach?

  • Your coach is an accountability partner – sharing ideas to apply smart practice with tenacity
  • Your coach offers you unconditional listening – helping prevent potential and existing problems from escalating
  • Your coach helps you grow to your maximum professional potential – connecting your talents to organizational goals, results and sustainable profits – A TRUE RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Congratulations again! Now, where would you like to begin your journey?

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Maggie Davis's avatar
    Maggie Davis
    | Permalink
    Your challenges with leading are right on! You also have to realize that there are times you will not be able to incorporate all perspectives, and there will be times that someone will be disappointed.

    Having some outside resource to bounce issues off is very helpful. That mentoring can allow a new leader perspective.

    Thanks for a great article Sunitha
  2. Sarah Bell's avatar
    Sarah Bell
    | Permalink
    You identified the issues and challenges very clearly and the practice suggestions nicely put the transition into the categories of process and learning opportunity. Great point about the value of career coaches at the end - makes career coaching more accessible to those, like me, who don't consider it!

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