Feeling ‘stuck’ as a leader? 3 tips to boost your confidence.
You don’t learn to be a great leader in a day or a week. Even after years something can pop up that you haven’t dealt with before. The good news is that you don’t need to know every answer, you just need to be open to finding the right answer! Here’s some tips to point you in the right direction:
1) Be resourceful – If you don’t have experience of the problem or solution, who does? Who can you ask so you can learn from their experience? What questions do you need to ask yourself or others?
There were many times in my career that I needed help with issues in my team, with stakeholders and with customers. We can learn a lot from other’s experience so don’t be afraid to reach out to the people who have walked the path before you and can help you navigate your way.
In my experience, people are generally happy to share their knowledge with others and help people who are keen on developing their skills. What could be a bigger compliment than you saying “I’ve been observing the way you keep tricky meetings on track – can you tell me how you do it”?
If you don’t have great leaders to learn from – it’s definitely a sign that you need to build a bigger and better network. Look for opportunities to attend seminars, business breakfasts or even volunteer at charity fundraisers so you can connect with a bigger pool of people to learn from.
If the human option fails to give you what you need – try Google!
2) Be creative – Try out different techniques and styles
The approach that works for motivating one person in your team is unlikely to work for another. One person may respond well to recognition and appreciation, while another may not care at all about this but be motivated by solving challenging problems. Your key role as their leader is to work out what is going to motivate each individual and what level of support that they need from you. You don’t have to spend hours observing them to discover their secrets – it’s fine to just ask them!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everybody does. I’ve found that I have learned so much more from stuffing something up than I ever did from getting it right. I remember a cringeworthy moment with my internal customers when I had distributed a slide pack that still had the draft notes and comments on and I only realised once we were in the C-level governance meeting. It still makes my skin prickle today when I think about it. The key is to admit the mistake, take responsibility, then learn from what went wrong and make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.
3) Leverage your strengths
We all have things we’re good at. There’s a solid reason you have been entrusted with a leadership role, it wasn’t by accident or default! Ensure you leverage those strengths whilst you build out your skills as a leader. If your key strength is that you are highly efficient and organised, focus on ensuring there’s processes and procedures in place first, then build up your other skills as you go. If your strength is that you communicate and engage well, use this to gain the support and understanding of the team whilst you settle into the role.
If all else fails – stay flexible! As Richard Branson says, “every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change”.