Every new leader wants to succeed. And regardless of how much you you’ve prepared, you will face inevitable challenges. You can be extensively educated in all of the hard disciplines of corporate leadership from goal setting and reporting to budgets and accounting, but it’s the softer side of leadership that’s guaranteed to bring the toughest challenges.
There are a few things to remember to help you through the critical, career-defining moment of taking on a leadership role for this first time.
First, remember that managing and leading are two very different roles.
Management is about organizing, delegating and coordinating, whereas leadership, is about inspiring, co-creating and steering the ship toward the overarching mission. Where management tends to details and execution, leadership tends to the vision and mission. Leaders are meant to assemble and enable the team to reach their goals and to work toward the shared purpose of the organization. Leaders lead. Managers manage.
Second, remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your cause.
Employees need to be committed to a deserving cause and not just a leader. The best way to foster that commitment is to embody a dedication to the cause yourself. You have to genuinely believe in the work and the shared vision. The best way to inspire others is by personally modeling the attitudes, relationships and behaviors you’d like to see in your team.
Third, remember the golden rule.
When in doubt, remember that everyone wants to be treated fairly. Good leaders treat their employees how they would want to be treated. A healthy respect for your employees goes a long way to earning trusting and commitment. Embody ethical behavior, honesty and reliability at all times. It will be the foundation for your success. Should employees at any point begin to doubt your integrity, it will undermine your effectiveness as a leader quickly.
Leading is not an easy task. And though certain skills can in fact be learned, many times, it’s often simply experience that sets the great leader apart from the good. As a first time leader, there’s no way to shortcut experience unfortunately. But understanding the difference between leading and managing, remembering that it’s about the cause and committing to acting with integrity, will help you navigate your first leadership role successfully.