Avoiding Leadership Traps
Taking on a leadership role for the first time is a huge challenge, and there are some traps that new leaders can easily fall into. This article will take you through these traps and how to avoid them.
Not acting and looking the part
As you move into a leadership role, you may require some changes in your attitude, appearance and work methods. While you may want to remain ‘one of the gang’, the reality is that you lead the team now and you need to look and act like it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a joke or have to always wear a suit, but you do need to make sure that you can never be judged to be acting or dressing inappropriately for your new role.
Not ‘stepping up’ to the role
If you have moved up through a team and are now the leader, this can create difficulties and awkwardness. Your role is now to inspire your team, to provide them with vision and leadership. You need to create a new relationship with your former co-workers which allows you to do this.
It can be easy to become isolated from your team. The temptation is to try to remove yourself from them, so sit in an office and work on your strategy or vision. As important as that is, you also need to develop a relationship with your team, and they need to know who you are, so make sure you are spending enough time with them.
Always having the answer
A new leader may have the perception that they need to know everything and always be able to come up with a solution. This isn’t always the case, and in fact, you may find your team have a lot more knowledge than you do if you are new to the group. Don’t pretend you know it all, ask for people’s ideas and listen to their answers.
Trying to do too much
It is natural to want to take on all the issues you believe need fixing, but be wary of taking on too much too soon. It will take a while for the day to day requirements of your new role to feel standard, so don’t try to take on too many additional tasks until you have got to grips with your role.
Some new leaders will want everything to be perfect. Unfortunately, the reality is rarely that way, and the search for perfectionism can drive you crazy! Admit when you make mistakes and understand that others aren’t perfect either. In both cases look for ways of avoiding similar mistakes in the future.
Keeping on underperforming team members
You may feel like you don’t have the knowledge or the authority to get rid of existing team members, or you may believe you can ‘fix’ them. While this may be possible, always be clear in your expectations of your team, give them time to prove themselves, and then take action if appropriate.
Listening to the wrong people
In your new role, there are likely to be those who want to have some level of influence over you, for many different reasons. You need to decide whose opinion you value and how to deal with those you don’t. Understanding the motivation behind those that approach you is key in getting this right.
Taking on a new leadership role is an exciting time, and you should celebrate your achievement of getting this far. If you can avoid the traps outlined above, your leadership style will evolve and expand.