We take on new roles/responsibilities at times, and typically with little guidance. Maybe this is because we are supposed to be the Guide, right? Right. This is easy to forget, which can make new challenges more frustrating than necessary. Most of the frustration comes from forgetting the basic flow of Leadership. Remember that whoever put you in charge, anticipates an initial learning curve.
We are expected to “figure it out” (Absorb). This takes time and a well thought out strategy. Due to the time requirement and our unfamiliarity with the challenge, it is easy to push a new challenge off and revert back to what we already know. However, if we have the right mindset, the absorption phase is one of the most exciting. We have the opportunity to uncover new passions, which will have a long-lasting impact on us and the organization. With the right perception, new growth-oriented challenges sound much better than doing the same tasks we are already good at, over and over. Absorb and be happy doing it.
Once we have absorbed knowledge from the organization, customers/stakeholders, peers, industry news, research, etc., it is time to make our Plan. We base the plan on a defined set of goals with timelines, and make sure that we/our team have an understanding of who will be focused on which specific goals.
Now that we have set the goals, the hardest part is to Lead the team through execution. The team must go through the same thing that we just put ourselves through, and they will need assistance. Since these are new initiatives, each team member has to believe in them, and become passionate about the reasoning for moving forward. Does the plan lead to growth/improvement? Does it improve the products/services we offer our customers? Does it improve our internal culture?…….. We must lead them to these questions and the answers, in order to get complete buy-in, which is required in order to successfully execute the plan. We may even have to kick off the process and get our hands dirty first, and then teach the others before moving into a support role.
“I got your back”; The team needs to feel our Support once the execution phase begins. We must make ourselves available for strategic discussions, problem solving, and developing/refining goals. At this stage, we are officially moving into the role of mentor / chief motivator. We should lead the charge in celebrating successes and highlighting those that are responsible, while at the same time retaining ownership of the overall team goals and taking ultimate responsibility for any failures.
Absorb – Plan – Lead – Support: Knowing what phase we are in, and what is next, is crucial to succeeding as a leader, and in providing clarity to the team. If you find yourself frustrated, circle back and see if you have missed a step or have perhaps followed the wrong flow.