Entering a leadership position for the first time is an exciting yet daunting milestone. Throughout my career as a marketing professional and a leadership coach, I’ve observed a common tendency among new leaders to strive to make an immediate impact by ‘stamping their mark’ on their new position. While this may be well-intentioned, it’s a surefire way to erode authority.
I fell into this trap early in my career. My desire to prove myself caused me to rush and dominate decisions, undermining the authority I sought to build. Fortunately, I received some telling and pointed feedback from my colleagues that has stuck with me to this day.
Here’s what I learned from my experience:
Recognize this instinct, then have a word with yourself: Stay tuned to what is happening inside you. An excellent place to start is by asking yourself: How secure are you feeling? Answer this and hear what comes out. If your instinct is to take charge – present a counterargument to yourself. What if I asked others what they think? What if I paused? And then do that first.
Practice calm and confident authority: It’s not easy to be vulnerable, but doing it early is a great investment in your leadership credibility. If you’re faced with a challenge, practice calmly stating the challenge to your team, walking through solutions, and then allowing others to take the mic and give their thoughts.
Allow space to consider all inputs: By giving others time to speak, question, and debate among themselves, you can sit back and absorb the meaning and directions that emerge. Resist the temptation to jump in and let natural rhythms take shape.
Reflect on your decision and then communicate it decisively: When you’ve heard all the inputs, take time to synthesize what’s been said and formulate your view on what needs to happen. Ask yourselves these questions: Was there a view that gained more currency than others? Did you get a balanced sense of the right course of action through this discourse?
Doing this as calmly and openly as possible sets a solid foundation for your leadership credentials. The structure you build is only as good as the foundations you put in place, so investing the time early – and wisely – is a good idea.