Why Your First Leadership Role will be a Challenge

The bad news is that being a leader is one of the most complex jobs on the planet, at least if you want to do it well. The good news is that when you learn to do it well (or better) the rewards, both personally and organizationally are astounding.  And the great news is that those are skills you can use in all parts of your life forever.

Why it Is Tough

In short, leading is hard, and anytime you are asked to do something that is hard for the first time, it is going to be a challenge, you will make mistakes, and it will be uncomfortable.  We can compound that problem with the fact that before the promotion you probably weren’t even aware of all the new skills that would be needed in the brave new world of leadership.

But that is still not all.  There are two other factors that make the transition to leadership so difficult.

The expectations are fuzzy.  It would be helpful if, upon promotion, you knew exactly what was expected and had a clear picture of success, but too often that isn’t the case.

Habits form quickly. While you are trying to figure it out, you are doing stuff, and some of the mistakes you are making won’t immediately be seen as mistakes, and so those behaviors will become habits.  How easy is it to change a habit?  Nope, not for me either.

What To Do About It

This wouldn’t be very helpful if all I did was say this was hard and encourage you to keep your chin up.  So here are three things you can do during your transition to leadership that will help you immensely.

Clarify expectations. Ok, so the expectations are fuzzy, or non-existent.  You can fix that. Be persistent in getting a clear picture of success from your new boss.  If they can’t or won’t be specific, ask someone else or create your own list and ask for agreement on the list you have created.  It is hard to improve at anything until you know what you are improving towards.

Decide you want to improve. You won’t get better at anything, from tying knots to playing the piano to leading others until you decide you want to improve.  Being a leader is too important to coast.  Decide to improve.

Get help. You don’t need to do it alone.  Find a trusted coach in your organization or hire one.  Use resources from people like us.  You don’t have to figure it out alone.

Now Step

Accept the challenge to lead more effectively and share this article with someone who is new as a leader and could use some encouragement.



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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com). He has spent nearly 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.
Twice he has been named by Inc.com as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists.

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