Business leaders are often thrust into positions of leadership based on their merit and contributions as team members.
But being a great individual contributor doesn’t always ensure the ability to lead others successfully.
The skills used in effective leadership are different from those required to be a high-performing team member, and even the most dedicated and competent employees will need to learn these new skills before they can confidently lead others.
When transitioning an employee into a position of leadership, it’s important to take the necessary steps to prepare that employee for his or her new assignment.
The first of these steps is a fundamental change in perspective.
Whereas individual team members are primarily focused on personal achievement and excellence, leaders must focus most of their attention on creating an environment that enables others to succeed for the good of the team and organization.
To make this shift, your new team leader may need to develop skills and attitudes that were less important in their previous roles.
The most essential among these are trust for and confidence in their team members, a willingness to delegate, and the courage needed to make tough decisions.
Simply put, team leaders are no longer the primary driver of their own success.
Instead, they achieve success by helping their team members achieve success, and this can sometimes be a frustrating transition.
The team leader will have to learn to trust and guide their team members without micromanaging them. Building positive relationships between leaders and employees is important to the productivity of the whole team and will help team members have more confidence in their new leader.
New leaders will also be required to shift how they think about and view the relationships they have with their coworkers, some of whom they may have worked with for many years.
Earning the trust of their team members will be even more important if the new leader once worked with them side by side, and leaders in this position may need some time to come to terms with the fact they will no longer be treated in the same way by their former peers.
Developing a professional relationship with their team members will require leaders to make tough decisions—and sometimes these decisions may make them unpopular among their employees. As hard as it may be, they must sometimes be willing to be the “bad guy” for the benefit of the team.
Why is it so important that these shifts in focus take place?
The way employees perceive their purpose and place in the company affects their priorities and how they do their jobs.
If team leaders come into their new position with the same attitudes they had as team members, it’s likely that they will be unable to secure the trust and confidence of the rest of the team, or to manage that team effectively.
Transitioning to a position of authority comes with some unique challenges.
Many people who are hired into leadership positions have formal training qualifying them for the role, but regardless of the person’s experience or expertise, the best thing an employer can do is provide an effective coaching program that will guide the new team leader through the transition.
A good coaching program will help your employees learn the skills required to be excellent leaders, prepare them for the unique challenges that come with leadership positions, and give them the tools to handle these challenges successfully.