Athletes moving from national competition into the international arena often mention the “step up” in standards. There is an increased speed and intensity that leaves some temporarily shell shocked as they come to terms with the reality of their new and more hostile environment. This can bring a renewed vigour and focus to their training as they know that if they don’t improve significantly in a number of areas they will never make the jump
A similar “jolt” greets people new to senior leadership and executive roles. They too are taken by surprise not only at the speed and intensity of their new lives but also at the volume of work and activity on their plates. If they continue to work as they did they will remain in the “weeds” bailing their team out and in a constant state of overwhelm and stress. Those who adapt to and thrive in their new environment learn how to work in a different way.
These are the building blocks to focus on if you are to make sense of and flourish in your new environment
Your success depends on your team’s performance and stability. Do they have the skills and desire to support you? What are you going to do to give them a stake in the company’s future and set them up for success?
Your boss is the most important and influential person in your career. Do you two get along? Are you clear on where you stand? You will need to get comfortable discussing their concerns and requirements as well as what you are going to need in return in order to address them.
Your effectiveness as a leader will be decided by the strength of your networks and how you look after the concerns of the people in them. If there’s any chance that someone can – regardless of position or job title – influence one of your initiatives, you need to seek them out and do what you can to make sure that they are in your corner.
Your ability to step up depends on the routines you shape to refresh and recharge, as well as tapping into a good support network. You won’t be able to move with any sense of purpose or energy if your tank is empty, or what you are putting in to it isn’t the right kind of stuff.
It’s Not All About You
Of the four steps, three of them relate to how well you coordinate with and build influence with others – your team, boss and peers. So, it should be obvious by now that it’s not all about you. The care and rigour that you invest in having effective conversations with these three constituencies will determine your success in a senior role.