More times than not, we plan our biggest debuts as a business leader around the perfect opportunity: envisioning how we would converse with industry leaders, show up and stand out during meetings, and promote ourselves for a job well done.
While these are all valid approaches to get and stay ahead, what happens when the opportunity to lead a big project, team, or organization finally lands at your feet, but isn’t quite packaged the way you expected?
If you aren’t careful, you may fool yourself into believing that you aren’t prepared. It’s easy to think that every influential person or manager you studied and look up to has it all figured out, and that they had a seamless road to the top.
Contrary to popular belief, many business leaders still don’t have it all figured out; most are still dealing with naysayers and constantly face the possibility of failing a big project or team.
Even Hillary Clinton says, “When you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”
Though, you’ve probably done your research, signed up for that online webinar, and listened to a few motivational podcasts, nothing prepares you as much as when the inevitable moment arrives to lead a difficult project as a new manager.
When the going gets tough, keep these three tips in mind when leveling up your career as a business leader.
Be Your Own Greatest Leader
The most respected leaders realize that it is not enough to dictate and demand. In order to create a high-performance environment, great leaders should know they first must be good communicators, decisive, and have integrity. According to the Path-Goal model, a theory that considers the impact of behavior on overall job satisfaction and effectiveness, a leader’s job is to assist followers in attaining their goals and to provide the necessary direction and support to ensure the goals are compatible with overall business objectives. So, whether you are at the top, middle, or bottom of your organization, expect to always roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and lead by example.
Have The Right Focus
The time wasted questioning your decision or position on a specific task or project, is time that could be spent working directly with team members, building relationships, and identifying opportunity gaps. According to Harvard Business Review, great leaders should balance task-focus (getting things done) with people-focus (inspiring, developing, and empowering others). Listening, and developing both yourself and others throughout all project demands has proven to enhance productivity and drive bottom line profits.
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3. Always Be Learning
Some of the best leaders are constant learners. They admit that it’s ok to not have all the answers and seek opportunities to learn more through people, books, or life situations. A sustainable competitive advantage depends on one’s ability to consistently seek and analyze information. Whether a project is going well or (what you feel is) horribly wrong, challenge your assumptions. By being impartial in your reflection, you’ll gain clearer insight into the lessons that should be learned; allowing you to be more efficient and effective for future opportunities.
It’s easy to get caught up in how things should or could be, when moving into a leadership or management role. What are some ways you managed the transition?