Leadership Transition

New Leadership Position? 3 Steps to a Successful Transition

Leadership TransitionWhether you’re a long-standing leader or a newly promoted manager, think back on your transition from individual contributor to new leader. How prepared were you to step into a leadership role? Did your company offer leadership development support? Were there clear expectations of your new role? Did you feel confident in your ability to be successful?

If you’re like most leaders, your path to management was not paved with leadership training, mentorship, and other critical support. You independently navigated the transition from a position where your focus was primarily on your own efforts, to a role with responsibility for inspiring, developing, and leading a team.

As you well know, leading a team requires a very different skill set from leading yourself. It’s no longer just about you and your individual performance– it’s about the team. In your new role, you might not be the rock star you were in your previous role. It can be difficult to give up that glory. You might also miss being on the front lines, practicing the skills you’ve mastered over the years. Additionally, the increased exposure that accompanies a higher-level position often creates anxiety, leaving you longing for the comfort zone of your previous role.

Making a transition to a new leadership role at any level is complex, anxiety-provoking, and even messy at times. Expectations aren’t always clear, players and politics change, and the stakes are much higher. Despite your previous experience, without a clear strategy and development plan to help you maximize your new leadership role, you could find yourself set up to fail. As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here won’t get you there.”

As you embark on any new leadership role, follow these three steps:

Leverage company resources

Some companies offer formalized leadership development programs to prepare you for a bigger leadership role. In some cases, these programs are publicly promoted or provided to you as part of an orientation/transition period. In other cases, you may need to seek them out.

Do not wait to be told! Proactively ask your manager or HR leader about the types of development support that are available to you. Even if your company doesn’t have its own leadership training and development offerings, it might be willing to pay for you to seek support elsewhere.

Invest in yourself

Be willing to make an investment in your professional development, whether or not your company provides you with leadership training and support,  Attend relevant conferences, training programs, and workshops to gain new leadership skills and learn from the experiences of others.

Even some of the best leadership development programs are inherently limited because you are typically learning how to lead in a vacuum. You’re placed in a short-lived, artificial environment rather than learning to lead in context. To receive consistent support as you tackle the challenges of your new leadership role, consider engaging an executive coach, mentor, or other ongoing resource.

Ask for help

Nobody, especially a new leader, is expected to know everything. Regardless of your level of experience, you will undoubtedly face moments when the path before you is unclear. Don’t go it alone.

If you’re uncertain about how to proceed, clarify expectations with your leadership team. Clear communication is critical to your success. Build a relationship with your manager immediately and make it a habit to communicate regularly. Leverage your peers and direct reports as well. Particularly if you’re new to the group or organization, they will have insights and experience that will be highly valuable to you.

Above all, be a leader in your own career. Great companies offer great leadership resources but it’s incumbent upon you to seek them out. If you’re not getting the support you need to be successful in your leadership role, take action to get it. Don’t wait for someone else to act on your behalf.

Too Busy for an Executive Career Transition? Try This!

executive career transitionYou’re an accomplished executive who is ready for your next challenge. You’ve reached your potential in your current role and are eager to spread your wings in a new group, company, or industry. You’re excited for your next step.

But… you’re busy! You have a great deal of responsibility in your current executive role. While you know you can’t take the next step without committing to the process, you have very little time to engage in an executive job search.

Here are 4 steps to help you maximize your executive career transition when you have limited bandwidth:

1. Have a clear focus.

Because you don’t have time to waste, you must be strategic about your executive career transition. Before you even begin your search, know exactly what you want:

    • Be crystal clear about your career target.
    • Identify your specific target companies.
    • Know what you need from your next work environment.

If you’re not clear about this yet, set aside small, but consistent, blocks of time to conduct research, engage in soul searching, or talk with others. With a clear focus, you’ll avoid a time-consuming and frustrating trial and error process.

2. Avoid known executive job search pitfalls.

You know job boards are an ineffective executive job search strategy, so don’t waste precious time on them. Engage in the highest payoff activities to accelerate the career transition process.

You already know that networking is the most effective strategy, so make time to connect or re-connect with your friends, colleagues, and associates. Networking doesn’t have to be all consuming. Schedule one 30-minute call per week to build momentum.

3. Take incremental steps.

One of the greatest challenges facing busy executives in career transition is their belief that they need to do too much too soon. Trying to boil the ocean will only set you up to fail.

Determine how much time you can reasonably commit to your executive job search each week and mark it on your calendar. Occasional 30-minute blocks in the morning, or 1-hour blocks in the evening will produce a cumulative effect over time. If you wait until you have large chunks of time available, you will never move forward.

4. Seek help.

Making an executive career transition under any circumstances is challenging. Doing so when you’re actively employed is even more complicated. Don’t try to do it alone. You may be a rock star in your role, but navigating an executive job search does not come naturally to most. Evaluate your strengths and determine where you need help.

    • Do you need help clarifying your career direction?
    • Do you need a more effective networking strategy?
    • Do you need support crafting your value proposition?

An executive career strategist can help you minimize the inefficiencies of an executive job search process. With the right support, you’ll stay focused, maximize your time, and reach your target with far less stress and uncertainty than you would on your own.

If you’re a busy executive who is ready for a career change, don’t let time stand in your way. With a clear focus, the right strategies, and a strong support system, you can achieve your career goals. And you won’t lose your sanity in the process!