Laying a Foundation for Leadership

Success—you have been promoted to manager, lead, supervisor, project coordinator! Now what? Most people move into leadership roles because they were excellent individual contributors. This can be a challenging transition because what worked in a past may not lead to future success. The critical skill becomes how to get work done through others versus doing all the work yourself. Your success as a leader is based on how you engage others.

As a first step in this journey, it is useful to consider other leaders you admire or who have motivated you. What was it that made them effective in bringing out the best in you? What did they say? What did they do? (If you have trouble bringing to mind models of good leadership, answer these questions thinking about what you wished for.)

  • What values did the best leaders demonstrate? 
  • How did your leaders help you understand the purpose and importance of your work?
  • How did they help you know what was expected of you?
  • How were you supported and guided when you faced struggles at work?
  • How did they give feedback for what went well in addition to what could have been better?
  • How were you recognized or rewarded? How did they know what you wanted?

After you have answered these questions about leaders you have known, think about how you want to be as a leader. What values will you hold? Make a list of key values. How will those values be reflected in the actions in you take?

For example, if one of the values you hold is collaboration, how will you demonstrate this if one of your direct reports brings you an idea you disagree with? How can you steer away from the “judgement” impulse? Collaboration might lead you to ask more questions about their idea—what was underlying the idea? What is the problem they are trying to solve? How would it be implemented? How do they see it relating to the goals of the department or organization? Etc.

A table might be helpful here—make a table with the list of key values, in another column, write the actions you will take that reflects that value, if you like this activity, make a third column for describing how you will know (outcomes) you have achieved that value. As you consider these questions and develop answers, you are creating a vision for the kind of leader you would like to be. As you continue your leadership journey, the challenge is to embody the vision everyday so that it guides your actions.

If you need help thinking about what kind of leader you are becoming and how you can step into the vision, coaching can help, please contact me.

©  Peg Hunt, MS and Anne E. Garing, PhD 

Share this post: