People new to managing are not usually taught how to level up in their new role. They become stuck a vicious cycle of reacting, redoing, and responding to stay across everything. If you are new(ish) to leading you may find you are operating at a level too low. You are immersed in the detail, which means you are pushing your team to operate at a level below where they should be.
The person you were in your previous technical role must morph into another style of person who can let go of what you used to do. You need to approach things differently to lead the team well.
Effective leaders know how to level up and bring their team with them. When you learn to do this, you will find the work becomes effortless. Don’t get me wrong – you will still be busy. But you have that feeling of ‘flow’. You and the team are heading in the same direction.
The following skills are crucial to becoming an effective leader.
Become a Deliberate Delegator
When you become a deliberate delegator, you clearly understand your role, what you should be doing, and what your team should be doing. You are operating at the right level for your seniority. You know what is required to lift the team, and you continue to build their capability to take on the tasks you are delegating. This allows you to focus on doing less of the work that your team should be doing and allowing them to take on more responsibility.
When done well, delegation allows you to focus on the work appropriate for your pay grade. It’s about being prepared to: let go of your perfectionism; your need to control everything; and the need to stay across the smallest details of what your team is doing. It reduces the risk of feeling overwhelmed and burning out. You will start to shine as a leader.
Focus on Building Relationships
Finding people to support you is important. This could be people in your team, the people above you, and your peers, who have your back, who support, encourage, and help you build confidence in your leadership abilities.
Being prepared to be vulnerable
Curiosity, and being prepared to say ‘I don’t understand’ is another key component of developing effective leadership skills.
Being comfortable to say, “I still don’t understand,” and asking a question ten times to make sure you do understand. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable builds trust with your team, and your team will value you for it. This is about being real. If you’re putting it on, people can see it a mile off.
One leader recently told me that “taking broader and bigger roles means if you don’t change your thinking, you’ll fail at it. I’ve done that by pushing myself to take on the challenge. A bigger, more senior role feels scary, and sometimes feels too big. Once I’ve started, I do a lot of asking questions, listening to understand, and respecting different diverse views.”
I watched this leader grow their team and change how they operated to be more effective. They levelled up, and I watched the team level up with them.
Your team wants to be able to learn from you and be inspired to level up as well. You start to get some time back in your day to start focussing on that higher value, future focused work you didn’t have time for before, and more time outside of work to relax and rejuvenate.
When you develop the skills to support your team and tap into what they can bring to their roles, there is an expansion of what you and what your team can do. The result is: the team is elevated; high-performing; co-creative; and innovative. Your value to the team and to the organisation increases exponentially.
Your thinking changes as your perception and perspective changes. This happens when you level up and start focusing on managing and leading your team.
You will start to be noticed for the good work you and your team are doing and your career will to soar.
Written by Maree Burgess.
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