5 Pieces Of Leadership Advice From The Other Side

Photo Credit: James Rickwood via CC License

Photo Credit: James Rickwood via CC License

This post was originally published on the FCR blog on January 28, 2016. Click here to read the original.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I constantly remind myself that the grass ISN’T always greener on the other side. For anyone who has ever been promoted into a leadership role in any organization, they know what I’m talking about. Sure there might be more “green” on the other side (AKA money) but there’s also more responsibility, more difficult problems to solve, and less time to accomplish it all in.

Earlier this week, we published the results of a study where we asked our colleagues for the number one skill they wish they had learned before being promoted to a supervisor or manager position. In the second part of that study, we asked:

“If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before you were promoted, what would it be?”

We received some fantastic responses – all of which I could identify with. Amid the replies, there were five themes that emerged. Here they are:

  • Time Management and Delegation – When people are promoted into leadership positions, the number of meetings and people vying for their time increases. And there’s still the expectation that they will find the time to complete their other work. To avoid sacrifices in their personal life, time management is a must. Along with this, the ability to delegate to others is essential. If they have the right team around them, there shouldn’t be a problem trusting them to do the work.
  • Focus on People – There was strong sentiment around focusing on the unique strengths of the individuals they are leading. Rather than managing everyone to fit into the same box, focus on developing individuals and setting goals for them to improve over time. Several people mentioned the difficulty in moving from being a peer to a supervisor. This transition can indeed be difficult, and while they won’t and shouldn’t be best friends with the people they supervise, there should be mutual respect and trust.
  • Keep Learning and Improving – A common misconception about leaders is that they were promoted after they became great leaders. While they may have earned the promotion thanks to hard work and leadership potential, they likely have much to learn. Change is a constant. The best leaders continuously learn and improve.
  • Relax – Similar to learning, several respondents encouraged new leaders to step back and take a deep breath. They were promoted because they proved their ability. They weren’t promoted because they were perfect. It’s important to figure out what needs to be done in a new role in order to be successful and do it. All leaders make mistakes on occasion and everyone will not love them or agree with them 100% of the time.
  • Get Clear Expectations – It’s always important to get a job description for a new role and get an understanding of the key performance indicators by which performance will be measured. The more they can get this up front from their supervisor, the more they will feel like they can be a success.

So I actually modified the whole phrase about grass a bit. I like to think that:

The grass may be greener on the other side, but it’s going to require as much, if not more chewing.

For that saying to work, you really have to picture a cow trying to get to the other side in pursuit of greener grass to eat.

What I’m trying to say is that along with the big promotion and change of title may come bigger problems to solve, more pressure, and less time. By heeding the advice of those that have gone before us, however, we have an opportunity for greater impact and reward.

On that note, it’s a great idea for new leaders to seek out someone with more experience in a similar capacity to mentor them. My colleague, Sheri Kendall-duPont shared a fantastic article on the importance of mentoring and being mentored. Thankfully, leaders on the other side of this transition are happy to share some of the things they’ve learned along the way.


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