Leadership comes with power. Power that can be wielded for good or for evil. Many people are extended leadership roles based on their skills, expertise, performance or ability to relate well to people, not necessarily for how good of a leader they have demonstrated they are or show the potential to be. No matter how you may have gotten into this new role, you may find that the power you now have can be difficult to manage. You now have control over a major part of other people’s lives. This is a huge responsibility and leaders who fail to recognize and respect this responsibility can find themselves doing the wrong things and causing more damage than good.
I’ve identified 8 keys to help you make a smooth transition into power and develop and maintain your standing as a respected and effective leader. The first four keys are included below. You’ll find the next four in part 2 of this note.
1. Stay Grounded
Power can change people. It can make you think you are better than you are, stronger than you are, and perhaps even invincible. This is where a lot of leaders get it wrong. They forget what it was like to be a member of the team now that they are leading the team. Try to remember what you liked most about the best leaders you had and use that to help keep you grounded. Also, remember what you disliked about the worst leaders in your career and use those memories to keep you from becoming like them. It’s likely you did the right things to get where you are, keep doing those things. Don’t let your position dictate your personality. Stay Grounded.
2. Be Firm
When you are in a power position you also have a greater level of responsibility, not just for yourself but for the people you are leading. You are now responsible for your actions and those of your team. This will require you to be firm in your decisions and the communication of your expectations. One way to help with this is to be confident in your decisions. If you believe that the decision you’ve made is the best decision given what you know, be confident in taking your team in that direction and let that confidence show through as you communicate with your team – even if the decision is not popular. It’s also acceptable to remind them that you are responsible for the decision and if you are wrong, you will be held accountable for it – because you will. This can go a long way in getting buy-in from your team.
3. Evaluate the Consequences of Decisions
Each of your decisions will have at least one outcome or consequence. Spend time trying to identify what they may be, then weigh your options and identify which is the best. Be able to communicate the options and how you evaluated them with your team (and perhaps your peers and executive leaders). Knowing that you’ve given thought to alternative options and evaluated which gave you the best opportunity for success may help to get your team’s support. This may not always be necessary, and you may not always have the time to do this. But when you can, include this step in your decision-making process.
4. Know the Details
When you have to make a decision, you want to make an informed decision, not a reactive decision. This means you need to gather as many details as possible and ask as many questions as possible – even the difficult questions. These details could be the determining factor in making a good decision or a bad decision and between your success and your failure. While it takes time to do this, it does demonstrate your leadership abilities and shows that you recognize that you don’t have all the answers.