You need to let go

Becoming more effective as a leader ensures everyone wins: You, the business or organisation you work for and of course those that you lead. In order for you to develop your leadership skills you need first of all to be able to fully embrace the idea that you are a leader. In order to embrace that idea fully, you need to let go ... 

One of the great mysteries of large organisations is that thing that happens to highly talented performers who do a great job, in a great way, consistently, over the long-term. You know what I'm talking about? Those great performers, get promoted further and further away from their areas of expertise and are rewarded with leading larger and larger teams.

This has never made sense to me and is an idea predicated on a rather shaky assumption that great performers automatically make great leaders. 

They don't. At least not always. 

Embracing leadership

One of the most common reasons that great performers struggle to transition effectively to leadership - be they awesome accountants; creative IT specialists, clever risk experts, strategic HR people or whatever you might be -  is they fail to embrace fully their role as a leader. 

Here's why. 

Confidence to lead

There are a couple of reasons you might be struggling with leadership and not enjoying the benefits that it brings. The first is related to where your confidence in the workplace comes from. Being a new leader can result in you lacking the confidence that was so abundant when you were an awesome technician/operator (accountant, IT specialist etc). Your comfort and confidence in the workplace may well have been based on your ability to deliver great results. It's easier to achieve tangible results as an operator, not so easy as a leader.

Many new leaders find it helpful to become more experienced with setting tangible outcomes for their leadership - e.g. reduction in team turnover rate; decreased costs; improved staff engagement - whilst also understanding that your impacts as a great leader may take more time to come to fruition or may be less 'visible'.

Letting go of the security that you gained from all/most of your outputs being tangible and short-term, can provide you with the confidence to lead.  

Identity crisis

The second reason you may be struggling to leap the chasm from operator to leader is that you have yet to adopt fully the identity of being a leader. You may look around your workplace at far more experienced leaders and get a sense of not 'belonging' to the leadership club. You may wrestle with a bit of Imposters' Syndrome - just waiting to be found out as a fraud.

Even if you still have to spend some of your day managing or even rolling up your sleeves and 'operating', you'll benefit from letting go of your identity as an operator-first-and-foremost. You need to let your former identity go before you can create the mental space for a new map that identifies you as a leader. 

Fully embracing leadership can be difficult and the two reasons explored in this post are quite commonly to be found at the root of the problem - sometimes together! However, one sure fire way of making progress is simply to get on with leading. Make the decision to lead and fully commit to actually getting on with the job of leading others effectively. 

Performance Edge Partners Ltd provide transformational change support for individuals, teams and whole organisations. Contact us here if you would like to discuss any issues related to change in your organisation. 

If you found the ideas in this post helpful, you may well like our new Youtube Channel - PEP Talks - where tips, advice, insights and leader interviews are regularly shared with you. 

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John Lewis
Little Hearts Matter