Stepping Up To Leadership

Too often, people who are promoted to their first leadership position fail and that failure trips up careers more often than not. 

Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you. It’s about your performance, your contributions your ability to deliver results. When we were in school, success was about raising your hand, getting called on, delivering the right answer and we were rewarded with high marks. So, we are conditioned to believe that we are leadership material after all, results count. Right answers are even better.

However, being an effective leader isn’t about getting people to think highly of you, its not about most of the aforementioned experiences….. it’s about getting people to think highly of themselves.

I heard a gentleman by the name of Bob Proctor once said to me; in order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower. The key is knowing when to follow and knowing when to lead.

When you become a leader, success is no longer about you, success is all about growing others. It’s about making the people who work for you smarter, bolder more confident. Its about instilling self confidence and self esteem in people so they make decisions and take intelligent business risks because they know its right and needs to be done. Nothing you do anymore as an individual matters except for how you nurture and support your team and help it’s members increase their self-confidence.

Yes, you will get your share of attention from up above—but only inasmuch as your team is successful. Put another way: Your success as a leader will come not from what you do but from the successes that your team achieves and the compensation will be enormous.

What I have just stated is a large transition and it’s not only hard; its stressful. Being a leader basically requires a whole new mindset. You’re no longer constantly thinking; how can I stand out? Your thinking – How can I help my people do their jobs better? How can I help my people stand out? What can I do to remove roadblocks to their success?

Sometimes that requires undoing a couple of decades of momentum. After all, you probably spent your entire life, starting in grade school and continuing through your last job, as a contributor who excels at “raising your hand.” But the good news is that you’ve been promoted because someone above you believes you have the stuff to make the leap from star player to successful leader. That leap actually involves five key elements.

First and foremost, you need Courage. Courage to make decisions, accept accountability for those decisions while accepting responsibility for your team members performance.

The second quality of leadership is Emotional Intelligence; our ability to monitor our emotions and the emotions of others; in order to discriminate between these emotional competencies while using this information to guide our thinking and actions.

The third quality of a leader is Decisiveness. Decisiveness is our ability to make decisions and “stick” to those decisions when we know we are right, the decisions have to be made and we know that the results of our those decisions are to the greater good of the organization.

The fourth quality is Communication. Give your people feedback—not just at annual, mid year or quarterly performance reviews but, after meetings, presentations, or visits to clients. Make every significant event a communication opportunity. Discuss what you like about what they are doing and ways that they can improve. Your energy will energize those around you. 

The fifth quality is Coaching. To actively coach you team members by exuding positive energy about life and the work; showing optimism about the future; and taking significant interest in their professional lives.

Through it all, never forget—you’re a leader now. It’s not about you anymore. It’s about them.

About The Author.

Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Southern, Ontario, Canada. An international presenter and consultant, he is known as a leader in operations management.  Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top10 % throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG.