Four Strategies to Succeed at the Next Level
It’s a phenomenal feeling to be promoted to the next level in any organization. The promotion is recognition of your hard work, expertise and professionalism. It also shows that the enterprise has confidence in you.
At times, the transition from peer to leader within a company can be more difficult than coming from a different firm as a new leader. When you come in as an outsider to a new organization, your team may have some knowledge of why an external leader was being sought out or may assume that your experience and background was a better fit than theirs for what is required. This is not necessarily the case with internal promotions. With internal promotions, your team knows your reputation. Oftentimes, one or more team members may feel they deserved the job.
New leaders are expected to implement improvements, structural changes or modifications to products, services or processes that better address requirements driven by the external market or competitive practices.
As a coach and former HR executive, I encourage newly promoted leaders to employ the following four strategies to succeed at the next level:
1 – Start a team meeting cadence. This will include virtual or in-person team meetings as well as 1:1 sessions with each of your direct reports. Set the meeting cadence up as quickly as possible and commit to having a new leader assimilation soon, usually in the first 3 months of on-boarding to your new role. Don’t assume everyone will be as pleased as your boss and you with your appointment as leader.
In an earlier career promotion, I held my first management team meeting. At that meeting, a team member asked why I had been chosen for the position over others in the room. Her body language—rigid posture, crossed arms—communicated that she had expected to be the next leader of the group. My reply was that question would need to be answered by the hiring manager, as I didn’t know who else was considered or interviewed or why I was chosen as opposed to anyone else. I told my new team that I was excited about the opportunity and looked forward to working with each of them. I also emphasized that I was committed to their career development and would be setting up career discussions with each of them.
2 – Meet with key stakeholders. Your elevated position means you have new stakeholders. Set up one-on-one discussions with them. Get their perspective on what your team does well that they want to see continued. Also ask about what you and your team can start doing and stop doing to be better. Listen—don’t defend; take notes and thank them for their insights. What you learn will help shape the plans you make responsive to the needed changes. Your stakeholders will value that you have asked and listened. Let them know you’ll share your overall plan with them once it is ready and approved.
This step gets missed too often with internal promotions. Yet, these critical stakeholder meetings serve to establish you with your new level of responsibility within the organization.
3 – Assess and improve your team. Great leaders know that their leadership team will determine their overall success or failure. As you meet with your team members one-on-one, ask about their career goals, not just their work goals and status. As a leader, you will need to assess your team members differently than how you may have viewed them as peers. Note that they are also assessing you differently as their manager. How do they fit with the changes you need to make based on industry trends and stakeholder feedback? How can you help each team member grow and develop in areas they desire? Who is not producing results at an expected level? Can they be coached to perform at a higher level, or will they need to be moved to a different position or out of your team/organization entirely? What structural changes are needed to meet organizational goals while also putting the right people in any new positions?
Making necessary moves within your team takes proper planning and creates the potential of other developmental opportunities within the broader organization. The person (referenced above) who asked why I had been chosen for the job versus another team member was placed into a new opportunity she desired within 12 months. Her move was the direct result of discussions with her about her career goals. Not only did she benefit by her move, but also two other positive career changes happened within my team because of cascading moves.
4 – Develop a compelling plan. Armed with insights from stakeholders, knowledge of market trends, team capabilities and desires, you are now ready to lay out your vision and plan, including proposed organization charts. Prepare slides that show your vision and how your implementation plan ties into the industry, business trends and stakeholder feedback. As you outline proposed changes in the organizational structure and leadership of your team, you also demonstrate your business acumen. Solicit feedback from your hiring manager and make modifications as needed.
This approach confirms with your manager that you are thinking far broader than your former position, demonstrates your leadership and shows your willingness to take feedback and adjust as needed. Backed with your manager’s approval, you are ready to implement your plan and lead your team with greater confidence in its ability to succeed.
How can executive coaching help you achieve success at the next level?
Lance Hazzard, PCC, CPCC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations achieve success. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019. Lance is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. More information can be found on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at the links below: