Three Critical Leadership Shifts

Look at you — you’re a rising star! You’re smart and successful. People are taking real notice of how good you are in your job as an engineer, financial analyst, customer-service representative or software developer.

Life is sweet, but something is about to rock your world.

You are about to get promoted.

Does this sound like an all-too-familiar scenario? Most people get promoted into leadership positions because they are good at what they do technically. The challenge is that they are often unprepared, out of their element, and, if you ask them privately, a bit scared.

How you handle this often-rocky transition to managing people will affect not only YOUR future, but your company’s as well. According to the Gartner Group, people don’t leave their organizations, they leave their managers.

Suddenly … that’s you.

Here’s the good news: Leadership can be learned. Seriously.

We know that there are some common and fundamental shifts that people need to make to transition successfully into leadership. Those shifts relate to (1) Your Priorities (2) Your Beliefs and (3) Your Skills.

Your Priorities

As you transition into leadership, your priority of work needs to change. Checkout these shifts below.

From… To…
Managing own time Reallocating time to not only complete your work but help align the work of others
Doing own work Getting things done through others (for a larger percentage of the work you do)
Setting priorities for self Establishing and communicating priorities for a team
Thinks about own area/function Considers interdependencies across areas/functions







Your Beliefs

One of the biggest challenges leaders have is around the core beliefs and assumptions they have about themselves and leadership. How do you stack up again these difficult internal shifts?

From… To…
Value technical skills/work Value people-leading work (versus just putting up with it)
Believe that doing the work is valuable work Believe that making time for coaching others is a valuable role of being a leader
Solves problems for self and others Enables others to solve problems for themselves
Doesn’t believe is visionary Creates and communicates a vision
Asks others for input to generate buy-in Asks others for input because genuinely values their opinions
Assumes power comes from expertise and positional authority Recognizes that power comes from a participative environment and values contributions of others
Tactical day-to-day orientation, gets caught in details Strategic orientation and longer-term perspective











Your Skills

Learning specific leadership skills are probably the easiest part of the transition. Here are a few of the most important ones.

From… To…
Utilizes an aggressive or passive style Balances styles of communicating own position and being open to input
Avoids difficult conversations Provides feedback on a daily basis
Approach is hands-on or hands-off Delegates to others using a situational approach
Over-compliments or under-compliements Recognizes others based on their individual needs
Uses discipline as a primary method for behavioral change Understands the difference between discipline and feedback and uses both approaches in driving performance








Your Next Steps

So, how did you fare? What areas in the checklists above come easily to you? What areas are more challenging for you? What could you start or stop doing to elevate your leadership effectiveness?

As you transition into your role as leader, you will often be tempted to look for a “silver bullet” to make things easier. We here at 5.12 Solutions believe that the answers are more practical. By focusing on these common leadership shifts, you will be well on your way to becoming what we call a People-First Leader.