Leaders who are in transition, like newly promoted middle managers, benefit working with a professional coach in building coping strategies to excel at their new roles. We have put together a story of one such manager who was promoted earlier than his team mates and struggled in adjusting with the change. He started to notice that his team members barely paid attention in meetings and held a very passive attitude. With the intention of offering and asking for help in the current capacity he was working in, he spoke to his team at an individual level. Rather than seeing it as an effort from his end it was perceived very negatively. These interactions soured the relationship between them and led to a further drop in subsequent team meetings.
As a result, he felt betrayed by the attitude that his team adopted towards him, started retracting to his own self avoiding any social conversations or lunches with others. This invariably also drastically affected his mood at work and his performance. He felt stuck between his own leaders and his team, chronically feeling demotivated and stressed.
As a newly promoted leader, this situation may resonate with you. There are often a lot of concerns/barriers when negotiating new roles, and both the team & new leaders are impacted. It becomes difficult to lead a team successfully when the leaders themselves are going through so many mixed feelings. We have put together some strategies to sail through this change below:
Establish & express your own identity. How you think of yourself as a leader and project it in daily interaction is crucial in such situations. Ask yourself crucial questions like : What are my plans with the team? How do I envision my team growing? What are my expectations from team members? What would I like them to know me as or know me for? What is my leadership style and what will work with the team to steer through our present challenges? While you may want to differentiate yourself from the previous leader by trying to do things differently, remember that fundamentally people are resistant to change and helping them see what they stand to gain by adopting a new working style will work more to your advantage rather than trying to prove how you are a better leader.
Own it. You are now a new leader, so quickly move to the question – ‘How can I make the most of this role? How can I leverage my experience in helping the team?’ Remind yourself that you are promoted because of your potential and expertise, in both your subject matter and in your ability to nurture talent. This particular approach would prove absolutely crucial in bridging the gap between you and your team. You taking interest in your team members’ career and coaching to find solutions will help your team members see you in a different light.
People’s Leader. Since you grew from within the team, and are an insider in that sense, and you have the opportunity to be able to see things from a macro level. As a new leader, you would also have a crucial role in maximizing team performance and show quick results. This can be built on your ability to nurture team talents, build motivation, provide resources and enable performance by helping overcome obstacles together. Having a conversation with the team rather than depending on a top-down diktat is essential in winning their trust. Remember to reflect on your conversations as this may help is smoothening your relationships with your team. Ask yourself – ‘What does my tone sound like? Am I having an open conversation or is this a top-down alley? While sometimes situations may call for a top—down approach, am I still giving the team space to reach out and discuss their feeling about the same?
Despite your best efforts you may find yourself feeling that you aren’t doing enough. It’s always a good idea to reach out to understand how to look at situations differently and what can be done differently. Maximize support available from the Human Resources, mentors and buddies at work, professional coaching and self-driven learning pathways.
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Human Dynamic is your partner for leadership and change. We are a team of diverse consultants present across 9 regions and in 16 direct offices. We offer effective Leadership & Change solutions for businesses that undergo the effects of globalization and organizational change.