How are you doing in your new role as leader?
Are you new in a leadership role and wonder how you are doing? This is a common question of new leaders, but limited time and support may get in the way of finding the answers. A good starting point is having a conversation with the individual to whom you are accountable. Don’t wait for feedback; ask for it on a regular basis; not necessarily once a day or once a week…but monthly or quarterly will be extremely helpful, particularly early on in your new role. Identify what you need from your manager to ensure you’re on the right track and make sure that these needs are clearly communicated.
Work with your manager to establish accountabilities as well as define the measurement criteria that will be used to determine success. As we move up the corporate ladder, our accountabilities need to be more aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. It’s also important to ensure that there is a mutual understanding of what expected results look like. Too often, accountabilities are imposed – look for an opportunity to negotiate these with your leader. Take time to review the organization’s business plan, strategic vision, values and mission and consider how your leadership and outcomes mesh with these. By having mutually agreed upon accountabilities and well defined measurement criteria, you are well on your way to success – just keep the goal posts in sight.
Many managers seek input and feedback from their mentors and colleagues. If you don’t yet have a mentor, look for someone within the organization who represents a role model – an individual whose style you would like to emulate. Approach this individual to determine their willingness and availability to support you in your professional and personal development.
The feedback provided by trusted colleagues can be most useful as these people work with you in a different capacity or observe your performance in arenas in which your manager may not. Once you have been in a leadership role for 6 months or more, a formal 360 degree feedback process can be a valuable and enlightening exercise that provides feedback from your boss, peers, direct reports and clients. Such feedback is extremely useful for development planning purposes.
Listen for feedback from your team members; after all, these are the individuals who will support you in the achievement of team results and it is important that they feel heard. Reflect upon the language that you have heard in reference to your role or leadership. For example, have you heard comments like “fun to work for”, “professional and fair”, “has our respect”, “an effective role model”, “displays leadership that guides the team in the same direction”..? Which of these statements would provide you with confidence that you are succeeding in your role?
Wait there’s more! Now take some time to complete a personal assessment of your performance – we recommend you do so as a matter of routine. If puzzled by how to proceed, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How have I defined success?
- How does my performance measure up to this definition?
- What are the areas that I find difficult, challenging or new for me?
- How am I coping with and adjusting to these?
- How are the employees I supervise responding to me and my leadership style?
- What challenges have developed and how have I managed them?
- How have I invested my time and energy to both develop the requisite competencies and achieve my personal and team accountabilities?
Finally, determine where you are expending the most time and energy. What is the return on investment? Do these expenditures provide you with a sense that you are being successful in your new role? Where you recognize areas for improvement, view these as opportunities for growth and learning.