Recently promoted and struggling to adjust to the ‘new norm’ of your leadership role? Looking for some new team leader tips? You are not alone.
Often organisations will fail to appreciate the impact on the employee of a change in role from doing to leading. New leaders may feel that, by their own standards and that of the organisation, they are now failing to make the grade.
Why new team leaders might not be prepared
In engineering and technology organisations I find this scenario particularly prevalent. A highly productive and technically strong employee is often promoted into a leadership role for the first time with little if any preparation, and inadequate support.
What success in a role looks like at a technical ‘doing’ level is so different to how a leader is evaluated. The organisation will be expecting the leadership of a team who are:
- Low conflict
That’s a big call for someone who has not been supported to develop the different skills and behaviours that are critical to leading teams. Coming into the leadership role with the ability to tightly manage process, data, clients and project delivery will no longer be enough.
New leaders and lost enjoyment
In comparison, the new leader may also have previously felt a sense of accomplishment and reward from a role delivering just that skill set. How will they feel when the things they are good at and they enjoy are no longer helping them to achieve in the new position?
Often they have chosen this career path because they enjoy it and moving into a position that may only allow for around 30% of their time to be spent ‘on the tools’ may mean they lose a lot of enjoyment from their role.
The big issue new leaders face
What I often see is a downwards spiral where the new leader focuses on the elements of the role they enjoy (technical delivery) to the detriment of the team leadership capabilities by which they will be judged.
This focus on technical delivery can also manifest itself in micro-management of the team, amplifying the impact of a leadership skill deficit. More pressure is placed on the new leader by the organisation who fail to understand why a previously valuable and productive employee is no longer meeting their (changed) expectations of performance.
New team leader tips
So how can we try to resolve this issue?
- Succession planning and adequate, tailored development plans for those who may move into leadership roles in the future is critical.
- A full and frank conversation with those being offered promotion to a leadership role will help inform and manage expectations from both sides.
- Once in the new position the new leader should be supported by an experienced mentor who can help guide them through the challenges they will face.
- A tailored leadership development program will also assist the new leader to develop the skill and implement the new behaviours that will allow them to become successful in their new position.