Emerging leaders have specific challenges. Here are three specific challenges that come up, especially if a leader was just promoted and/or given more responsibilities: Strategy, Building Relationships and Delegating.
It can be so challenging for a leader who has deliverables, people to manage, meetings, and deadlines to stop and create time to proactively think strategically about the organization and his/her department. But that is exactly what is needed. Some clients freeze at the thought of taking a couple of hours a week to stop, step back and look at the bigger picture, but this time is essential since it allows them to:
- remind themselves what the leading strategic initiatives,
- see if they are focused on these,
- assess if any of the major initiatives have changed,
- see if one’s department needs to be in more alignment with other departments to accomplish the major goals of the organization.
The pace of business is moving faster and faster; if companies and leaders want to stay ahead of the curve, a fresh look at the strategic goals every quarter as well as conducting a SWOT analysis can be helpful to stay on target.
When I work with clients who need to be more strategic, we first take a look at the strategy of the organization as well as the department, then review what the strategic process is for the organization. Then we assess how aligned my clients’ department is with the overall strategic goals of the organization. You can do this too:
If you need to be doing more work on being strategic for the next year:
- Schedule time in your calendar and look at what kind of work you would like to do during those times (brainstorming, visioning, building future scenarios)
- Consider whether you would like to do this on your own, with your team, with other department leaders, with your supervisor, or the leadership of the organization.
- If you want to include others: invite them and get them aligned with your goals for that time.
Leaders who had few direct reports prior to their promotion and were mostly individual contributors have quite the adjustment to make when stepping into a new role with a team. A major one of these is building relationships with their peers. Many managers tell me that they don’t want any conflict and/or don’t want to deal with the politics. Building relationships and strengthening relationships will bring great opportunities for collaboration and may bring up conflict and political situations but that is no reason to shy away from building these.
When coaching, I look at a leader’s resiliency as well as his/her agility. This is what is needed in building relationships, enhancing communication and collaborating. One of the biggest struggles in organizations is the conflict created over limited resources. The development of relationship requires the capacity to negotiate, in order to navigate and satisfy those competing for those scarce resources.
If you need to work on relationship building:
- Create a networking map on a flip chart, listing each person with whom you want to consider networking
- Highlight whom you are close to, with whom you need to spend more time and with whom you are in conflict. These individuals can be direct reports, peers, clients, senior leaders, leaders of internal department and sometimes even family.
- Create a plan and schedule meetings with clear goals with the individuals on your map that are/will be important in creating success for you, your department and your organization.
Finally, delegating (or rather, not delegating) seems to be a recurring issue for leaders. This is challenging for different reasons: some leaders are used to doing the work, know they can do it well and feel that the work will be done quicker if they do it on their own. Other leaders are reluctant to let go of some of their responsibilities, while others would like to continue receiving the recognition associated with doing some projects. Whatever the reason for not delegating, if a leader’s role needs to be more strategic, they need to learn to delegate and do it well.
If delegating is a challenge for you:
- Assess your direct reports and their responsibilities and
- Determine which one would benefit from getting some stretch goals and assignments. I then ask them to
- Make a list of your own projects, goals and meetings
- Select which one of these could be delegated.
- Make time to go over what you are delegating to your direct reports to review occasionally to see how the transfer of goals, assignments, projects and meetings are going.
Once this is done, the leaders then have more time to devote to working more strategically while spending more time with peers, clients, colleagues and senior leaders inside and outside the organization.