How To Transition Into Leadership
Have you ever thought about how an airplane pilot learns to fly? Pilots don’t learn to fly by
using what works when they drive a car. Pilots learn from accomplished teachers and transform themselves into pilots. The same is applied to leadership. The best leaders don’t use the same skills that made them successful as individual contributors. The best leaders learn from other great leaders and coaches, transforming themselves into leaders.
There are 5 key characteristics of Emerging Leaders that we have identified. When leaders
practice these, they are most successful which leads to less stress, less work, more raises, and
A leadership mindset requires the ability to make decisions quickly, communicate them
confidently, and stand behind them, even in difficult times.
Here are 4 biases/bents that can cloud a leader's mindset:
Perception/Context Bias – Comparing people on your team to one another. We encourage you to learn to see things and people regardless of what is near, or who is related.
Experience Bias – We often rely on our past experiences to draw conclusions in current situations. That helps us in many ways, but as a leader, we encourage you to put your former experiences aside and look at things from a new perspective.
Social Pressure – It's like that saying your Mom had, “if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you too?” Social pressure often alters how we behave—but as a leader, you often have to stick by your convictions, even if they are different than that of your peers or team.
Expectancy Theory – This is like predicting the future and reacting to that. We encourage you to remain present and address each situation as is.
One of the greatest goals of a leader in any organization is to get people to stick around longer and be more productive while they’re there. Each person is motivated by different things at different times in their life. For example, one person on your team may really value a flexible work schedule, while another may value extra responsibilities.
The most common mistake of leaders is attempting to motivate people with money. Understanding what really motivates each person on your team is the difference between success and failure. We recommend that you ask each member of your team what motivates them and ask it several times each year.
A leader is not judged on how they handle easy conversations. A leader is judged on how they handle difficult conversations. Where most people fail is that they think the conversation is going to go bad. When people expect tough conversations to go bad – they do. It is the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain that causes this. In the same fashion, if you visualize a good outcome and conversation, that will happen. We recommend you take a few minutes prior to each difficult conversation to write down the ideal outcomes and how you’re going to show up.
In pursuit of fairness, managers often default to treating everyone the same. In reality, each
employee is at a different place based on their experience, attitude, tenure, and many other
factors. So, coaching everyone the same will not be effective. Take the time to understand
where each member of your team is at and coach them accordingly. The easiest visualization of this that we have discovered is illustrated below.
A brand-new employee without experience in your industry (D1) will need a lot of detailed
direction and guidance (DIRECTING - S1). An employee that’s been with the organization for 3+ years and has 10+ years of experience in the industry (D4) only needs minimal direction from you (DELEGATING - S4).
Snacks, beer kegs, ping pong, and casual Fridays are NOT culture. Culture is how people feel about the work they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
Early in my career, I did a lot of work in Silicon Valley. During that time I got to work with an
an employee at Google named Joe. After the third time, I heard Joe start a phone call with, “we have to make this quick I’ve got a pick-up basketball game that’s about to start” I had to ask more. Joe let me know that he’s required to be on Google’s campus for at least 50 hours every week. He went on to say that some weeks his job required 25 hours and some weeks required 80+ hours. What he said he really wanted to do during the weeks with 25 hours was rest and spend time at home but he couldn’t. Joe left the company not long after that.
Google has been very successful and Google was the first company to popularize the comforts of the outside world at work. They were successful despite doing this, not because they did this. Google was successful because it let the employees drive innovation, it was having a profound impact on the world, and it was fast growing.
My recommendation to you is not to focus on snacks, beer kegs, ping pong, and casual Fridays to drive culture. Have the work itself be fun, ensure the work is having a positive impact on the world, and allow people to see their future with the company.
So, where do you start? To build strong teams, we must start with ourselves. Find a mentor,
coaching program, and/or structured education. Practice these 5 principles, and we guarantee you will be a more effective leader resulting in less stress, less work, more raises, and more promotions.