Leaders and managers in all situations face challenges day in day out. Some may be really significant business related ones that have to be dealt with immediately and these are the ones leaders rightly expect to have to deal with. What challenges first-time leaders the most though isn’t these business issues, it’s the ‘how do I interact with others’ issues.
There are three areas that challenge new leaders:
Getting the terminology right
Maybe it’s the titles people get when they move into a position of leadership or it’s the perceived authority that comes with the role but a big mistake people make is that they assume that telling people what to do is the name of the game. Now, most people expect this to some degree but it’s the way it comes across that is key in any inter-action between leaders and their team.
Everyone knows that you are the boss so there is no need to overdo it, just tone the language down and ask people to do things. They still know they have to do it but you stand more chance of developing a positive long-term relationship this way.
Continuing to do the work
Delegating tasks that you are perfectly capable of undertaking yourself is never easy and only comes with practice. However, new leaders can, in a bid to appear as part of the team (and they may have recently been part of the team) take on too many activities themselves. The intention is a good one of course as it shows togetherness but I can quickly overwhelm the first-time leader as they will have to do all the leadership activities on top of that as well.
Thinking they have to know it all
Maybe its got something to do with family or school but there can be an expectation that someone in a leadership role (or any figurehead for that matter) must know the answer to all our questions (particularly so in Western culture). The danger for the first-time leader is that they will feel uneasy saying they don’t know the answer to a question and that they’ll look into it. Of course this isn’t a weakness at all but the first-time leader may well feel that it is. Another way of dealing with such a challenge is to put it back to the team you are leading as chances are the group will have the answers, or at least know how to go about getting the answers.
Being put in a position of leading others for the first time is stressful enough for many people. It will only be made worse if they think they have to know the answer to each and every question and take on many of the tasks that should be done by their team. At the same time they may well think that their new found authority gives them the right to tell others what to do. New leaders need to think for a minute on these. Their role is to provide the leadership others require and understand their own limitations and work with them.
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