LEADERSHIP / OCT. 08, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Succeed in a New Leadership Role

Though being appointed to a new leadership role might be exciting, it comes with a lot of responsibility. As a leader, you will be held accountable for what happens in your organization or department. This becomes a major challenge, especially for leaders who inherit dysfunctional systems. If you don’t plan well from the onset, you might end up being overwhelmed by the demands of the new role.

The following are some tips for succeeding in a new leadership role:

1. Know your organization’s mission

The first thing you need to do is internalize your organization’s mission. Read and the mission statement and take time to reflect on it. This way, you will be able to align your efforts and strategies with the mission. If you are not sure about any aspect of the mission statement, you should consult the relevant stakeholders for clarification.

2. Get familiar with the stakeholders

Who wields influence over your organization? How are decisions made? Who has control over the organization’s resources? To identify such people whose decisions matter, you need to carry out a stakeholder analysis. Find a way of building good relationships with these individuals from the onset. If possible, have a meeting with them physically or virtually within the first weeks of your posting. Find out what their main concerns about your organization are. Don’t forget to also reach out to the main clients of the organization. Engaging your stakeholders will enable you to identify and deal with problems early enough.

3. Carry out a risk analysis

A risk analysis enables you to identify latent problems in your organization and their probable consequences. Though such an exercise can be strenuous and time-consuming, it will provide information which can prove very valuable. One of the best ways of carrying out risk analysis is by having a conversation with the outgoing leader. This will shed light on issues that have been averted and problems that remain unresolved.

4. Understand culture, values and management structures

Besides understanding your company’s mission, you need to get a good idea of how things actually work. Take time to study the management structure of your organization. Get familiar with the roles and responsibilities, budgeting procedures, workflows, information management and ongoing projects. Find out if the laid down procedures are being followed and if they are effective.

In addition, it is important to understand the organizational cultures and values. What value are they adding to your organization? Think of how cultures and values can be modified or improved to enhance productivity.

5. Stay curious

Even after streamlining policies and procedures, you should always be on the lookout for new problems. Keep yourself updated on trends, events and people. One of the best ways of staying in touch with your people is by applying the management by wandering around technique. Visiting different departments of your company allows you to build strong relationships with the members of your team. In addition, it enables you to gather feedback on customer expectations, workloads and processes. This way, you can spot problems and address them before they get out of hand.

Taking responsibility in a new leadership role is an ongoing process. The above-mentioned tips will enable you to fulfill your obligations to all the stakeholders.


Image: istock

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