You are new to leadership; you have amazing skills, you are a top performer, and a big picture-type thinker—these qualities helped you secure your new managerial position. So why are you feeling stressed and underqualified?
Many new managers encounter the Leadership Paradox. Your skillset that led to your promotion is important, as is your experience in your field, however the primary function of your new role as manager is to foster the growth and development of the people around you. Let me rephrase that: you will not be using your technical skills as frequently; you must develop skillsets in others—it is not you, but the team which you lead that is performing the front-line work.
Supporting the development of others is not an easy endeavour—likely the reason you are feeling stressed. Let me address this: I will start with the way you present yourself as a leader, this will have a significant impact on your ability to capture the collective attention of your team members. Take a minute to reflect on leaders you have experienced in your life—in your career or maybe in your personal life. Which type of leader comes to mind? What are specific qualities this person possesses? How did he or she make you feel? Now, consider how you want to appear to your staff—mindset is everything! Once you determine who you want to be for your team it will be time to consider what you will have to do to achieve your desired results; will you need to develop your listening skills? Will you need to soften your tone? Perhaps you will need to learn to bite your tongue every time you want to interject with great advice?!
Changing how you think about your role and how you want to appear will naturally lead to changing the way you communicate. As a leader it is your job to ask powerful questions, to engage staff in building confidence and to facilitate problem-solving. Nothing is more motivating than trust and a little bit of freedom. This could possibly mean shifting your mindset from giving staff advice to helping them grow from within into more efficient, solution-finding assets. This shift is most easily attained by using a coach-approach, which involves showing up from a place of curiosity that is genuine and non-judgemental.
Leadership development is a process that requires conscious effort and comes more naturally with experience and time. If you are wondering how long it will take to feel like an amazing, top performing, successful manager—it will likely take years. The good news is that with the proper mindset and leadership support you can begin your own accelerated growth path.