How to Avoid 4 Common “Rookie” Leadership Errors

new leader

If you take development seriously, it's likely your goal is to be promoted to a leadership position. Once you're there, few new managers realize something that is critical to their success: they have a new job.

Think about it. New managers are promoted because they were really, really good at something. And now they are being asked to stop doing the thing they're really, really good at, and do a job that requires a whole new skill set.

As a new leader, your job no longer is doing the thing that got you there. It's making sure other people do the thing that got you there. Your job is to lead them.

Here's some ways to avoid common pitfalls:

1. Embrace the role. It’s understandable to want to slip back into your comfort zone and continue to do your old job - particularly in the beginning as you are finding your way. And if your team is in the weeds, it’s nothing but good leadership to roll up your sleeves and help do the work. But be careful to distinguish between a one time assist and a pattern that will leave you torpedoed before you ever set sail.

2. Create a healthy distance. If on Friday you were a team member and on Monday you are the team leader, it's important to create some boundaries. Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. It's true that people are happier working for a manager that they get on with. However, you'll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team. This doesn't mean that you can't socialize with your team but it does mean that you have to make a clear decision about where to draw the line.

3. Learn to delegate. Again... you were promoted because you were good at what you do. Now it's time to stop being a "doer" and start being a leader... and that means learning to delegate. For someone who is used to being an individual performer, delegation can be a scary thing. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around you, risking stress and burnout. If the thought of delegation makes you nauseous, start with small, less important items and work your way up to the big stuff.

4. Raise the red flag. You should be very proud of the fact that you earned this promotion. But don't think that means you're expected to know everything about everything... or that you won't need help. Asking for help is a measure of strength, not weakness. Better to get an assist so you can continue to build good habits than to stay silent and slowly implode.

It's true that making a mistake can be a learning opportunity. But, taking the time to learn how to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become productive and successful, and highly respected by your team.


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