At our quarterly forum last week with mentors and coaches who deliver our programs around the world we discussed how to best prepare people for leadership roles.
Our case study described Daniel, a newly promoted member of the executive team. He leads finance & technology teams for a national transport company that has an ambitious growth target. He is a skilled professional expert, works long hours, people like him and he’s collaborative. Although excited by this new opportunity he is overwhelmed by the workload and a little frustrated by the KPI’s that he thinks are unrealistic. The CEO says Daniel is highly valued but needs to ‘step up’ into this role.
The mentors & coaches questions and thoughts to help Daniel transition included:
Are you clear on your new role and responsibilities? Can you identify your top 3 priorities for the year? Do you need to reset your own expectations? A common trap is to continue doing your old job that you enjoy and feel comfortable with while trying to deliver, or worse – neglect, the new one.
How are you managing people’s expectations around you so they are clear on your new role? Does your CEO or peers still see you as being the detailed expert? Are your team also clear on their new responsibilities? This takes many conversations, planning & delegation.
What does the CEO want from you? How can you support her? What keeps her awake at night? Challenge yourself to start thinking from the CEO’s perspective and anticipate her challenges.
Another key issue was wellbeing and how we can all take steps to improve this for ourselves, our teams and our organisations.
Managing yourself, your emotions and presenting to others as calm and resilient is an important leadership skill, it shows emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Bringing a positive energy to the team, managing setbacks well and leading by example are all sought after traits. Yet it’s hard to present well and be your best self at work when you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or burnt out. Recent research by Women’s Agenda reported that 77% women in Australia said they had experienced burnout in the last 12 months and this impacted their ambitions in the next year.
Building habits in the workplace to better manage workload, stress and health has never been so important. It needs to be intentionally practiced and prioritised. Here are four approaches to try:
Stay connected – this is an important human need, invest in your most important relationships that give you energy, offer perspective and support. Intentionally connect with others beyond the task at hand.
Self-compassion – extend kindness to yourself and let go of perfectionism. Stop being your harshest critic and accept that we all make mistakes. Embrace a growth mindset and see mistakes as a learning opportunity.
Spending time on things you love away from work – know what brings you joy and invest time in this regularly. This is key to recharging and enabling you to work at your best. Is it seeing friends, yoga, running, reading, guitar, time alone? Put it in your calendar today.
Setting boundaries – Be realistic about what you can achieve in your day in terms of your workload, managing your energy and time and clearly communicate that to others. Clarify priorities with your team and managers. Role model this for your team by not sending or responding to emails after hours, draft it for the next day.