Home > Challenges, Goals, Leadership > Best kept secret of transition from professional to leader

Best kept secret of transition from professional to leader

“This is the hardest transition I’ve ever made” to quote a successful software developer after her first three months as a manager.  Why was that?  “Suddenly I’ve found I can’t do everything.  I’m bombarded by emails, requests for information…. I have to be selective about what I do”.

She shared this in a group coaching session I was running to help her and others recently promoted to address the big challenges in their new roles.Leadership tightrope

Although this was several years ago I still find this is one of the biggest shocks to new leaders.  Does it matter? – yes! because as a new leader you want to focus on the big challenges you really do need to get to grips with, not trying to walk a tightrope of something totally unrealistic and unattainable.

Why is it such a closely guarded secret?  Maybe:

  • None of us quite get over that guilty feeling of NOT doing everything?
  • Or feel we’ll lose credibility if we admit to this ‘weakness’?
  • There is still a tendency in many organisations to promote people because of their professional expertise rather than their leadership qualities or potential – this means that when you are promoted you think that’s why you got the job and you need to be even more professional and knowledgeable?
  • Little or no organisational support is provided to help with this transition?
  • It’s hard to break the  ‘habit of a lifetime’ of responding to all requests and demands?

So what’s the answer?

  • Other leaders and HR managers should share what they are looking for in a manager/leader in their organisation  – it’s not just a more glorified professional role – and may not be for everyone who’s great at their job.  One law firm I worked with had a clear framework which specified the responsibilities at each point on the career ladder from Solicitor to Partner
  • Setting yourself a vision and goals and prioritising around these – Stephen Covey’s matrix in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People is one excellent way of doing this – prioritising around what’s important and/or urgent (or not!)
  • And one of my enduring themes – it’s about changing your beliefs and letting go ie the value you bring comes from a different source, no one can do this as well as you can so you’d better do it yourself……which brings me to…
  • Understanding how to delegate successfully

And that will be the theme of my next post – don’t worry it won’t be a list of ‘practical tips’ – it’s about what it REALLY takes to delegate successfully….As always I’ve got some real life examples to share with you of the positive benefits and also some dire consequences of NOT doing it well!

As ever, please share your views below.  I look forward to hearing what you think.

Photo: © Aliaksei Hintau – Fotolia.com

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  1. Ian Talbott
    October 6, 2011 at 11:13

    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to the next one.

  2. Sarah Williams
    October 7, 2011 at 12:18

    Really insightful and reassuring..
    I alwasy enjoy reading your blog and will definitely share some of the content of the latest one when working with my customers

    • October 7, 2011 at 12:42

      Thank you so much Sarah – and do of course feel free to pass the link on to them if you think it would help them 🙂

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