Introduction: Why the need for a transition
Human beings generally thrive on personal achievements. True leaders, on the other hand, thrive on the achievements of their team members. Highly effective leaders guide, assist, and coach team members rather than do the work themselves. Successful leaders learn to trust others and spend time developing people. They often do not possess these abilities when they first assume a leadership position. These abilities develop over time. New leaders can create a rift with employees because the leader may become too hands on, thus frustrating employees with too many controls and over supervision. The transition to leadership may also create some personal tension because the leaders self-worth now depends on the efforts of others. In short, a successful transition to leadership means leaders have to shift their orientation and source of self-esteem, develop confidence in others and derive satisfaction from their achievements.
The Substance: How to make the transition.
Successful leaders re-define their need for power and control. Team members normally value a certain amount of freedom and autonomy. People want to influence the events around them and not be controlled by an over-bearing leader. When you are the individual contributor, close to the work itself, you are the master in control of your circumstances; your personal performance has a big effect on your satisfaction and motivation. The situation is different when you become a leader. Your personal contribution is less direct; you often operate behind the scenes. Coaches work best from the sidelines and during practice and intermission, not when the lights are on and the game is under way. Leaders create frustration for everyone when they try to be involved in every project and expect team members to check-in before beginning every task. World-class leaders delegate. They learn to trust. This means giving up some control. Leaders learn to live with the risks and knowledge that someone else may do things a little differently. Every person is unique, and they will individualize certain aspects of their work. When leaders dont empower and delegate, they can become ineffective and overwhelmed. In turn, team members feel underutilized and therefore less motivated.
Finally, leaders learn to transition in other critical ways. They learn how to live with occasional feelings of separation and people dont always accept their decisions when faced with gut wrenching situations. Leaders have a view of the big picture in mind. But the challenge for leaders lies in balancing the needs of many stakeholders: owners, employees, customers, and community. Because of this challenge, team members can feel alienated when unpopular decisions must be made. Leadership can be hard. It is impossible to please everyone all of the time. While the need for belonging and connecting with the group is important, leaders know the mission and vision takes precedence. Sometimes a leader should make waves, champion change, and challenge peoples comfort zone. Leaders may not always relish conflict, but they are not afraid of it either. Leaders are guided by standards, principles, and core values. Leaders focus on what is right, not who is right.
Leaders know they cant make people happy. People have to take ownership and control of their own happiness. Leaders do not focus on personalities factors. At times, the individual self-interests of a team member may be in opposition with the interests of the group. Leaders concentrate on shared interests and the team goal. Consequently, the driving force behind a team is a leader who treats team members with respect, while keeping the vision in mind. People are different and you have to treat people differently yet fairly.
Conclusion: Gaining a positive outlook.
The process of transitioning into a leadership position can be smoother if leaders can monitor and manage their outlook and perspective. Leadership training, education, tools, and systems are very important. However, without the right outlook, new and even veteran leaders will experience serious difficulties and unrest. Reflect and examine your own leadership attitude and perspective. Develop an intentional plan to work on areas that need improvement. Build your skills, and get a coach or mentor to help you. Be proactive, set goals, and track progress. Notice your behavior patterns. Dont take over a task when someone is just looking for your input. Be patient. Leadership training is a life-long development process. Dont be afraid to share your goals and vision with your team members. Positive change can occur with commitment and persistence.
The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE) was founded in 1978 with the vision and mission to help improve individual leadership and team member skills within organizations.