In order to succeed as a leader, you need to start by changing your mindset about being a leader. You may be so used to following the rules and being told what to do that transitioning into an environment where you are expected to take charge can be challenging at first. The best way to make this transition easier on yourself and others is to act like you’re already in the leadership position, no matter your official title or role within the company. Use these eight tips to transition from employee to leader and become an effective leader right away!
1) Put yourself out there
Find ways to be seen by your manager and executives. People don’t expect someone to just show up one day and demand they give them a leadership position.
You have to put yourself out there, and the more exposure you get, the more likely it is that opportunity will find you. If they don’t see your potential, then they’re not looking hard enough.
Identify who’s who in your organisation early on, make friends with people outside of your team or department, maintain good relationships with colleagues inside of your team or department, and network constantly with other departments and recruiters from outside companies—that last point can lead to amazing opportunities!
2) Focus on your strengths
What makes you special and sets you apart from other candidates? Highlight what sets you apart, like your knowledge in an area of expertise or a personal accomplishment.
You can also leverage these strengths to answer common interview questions, such as: “Why are you the best candidate for this position? What will you bring to the company? How do you think we can improve our product or service?
In terms of goals, think about what it is that will make you successful. For example, if it’s more responsibility than you want, then be prepared to take on new tasks with gusto and embrace them.
If it’s better relationships with coworkers that you desire, then go out of your way to get to know people before asking for anything.
3) Learn as much as you can about the organization
Do your homework and investigate the company and its culture ahead of time so you know what to expect once you start. It’s important to be aware of potential concerns that may arise during your employment or after you leave.
Read current news items related to the organization, learn about how decisions are made and find out who will likely be your boss.
Another way to do your research is by talking with someone who already works there—they’ll have invaluable insights as well as inside knowledge on company happenings, expectations, resources available, and much more.
4) Do your homework on the market
As you start to research other companies, review their position descriptions and read up on the roles of the different managers. You want to find out if there are any opportunities at these companies that could be a good fit for you.
In some cases, you may even want to apply directly from your research and bypass going through the recruiter process altogether. At this point, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself or feel like you have to jump at every opportunity that arises.
You still have time to gather information and think about what options would be best for you, as well as manage expectations in your current position.
There are plenty of steps between your first informational interview with another company and actually accepting an offer from them, so take your time and do your homework!
5) Think like an owner, not an employee
Of course, you want to transition into the right leadership position, but even if you are making your way up the ladder, there are ways you can continue to be successful in your current job and earn greater respect.
Start by thinking like an owner of your work instead of an employee. As a leader, it’s important that you set clear expectations so that people know what’s expected of them; take time to learn from others because every person has something valuable to offer.
Act with courage and speak boldly when it comes to following through on commitments. Give everyone around you constructive feedback about how they’re doing. Give them coaching or training if they need it.
Hold them accountable if they aren’t delivering the performance required by their role.
6) Don’t make assumptions about what people want
Unfortunately, making assumptions can lead to overlooking your strengths and talents. When you start a new job or take on the role of leadership, don’t assume what people want from you.
Take time to assess your strengths and find ways that you can contribute outside of your day-to-day tasks.
You may be surprised by the support that exists in an organization–so ask for it! If you’re not sure where to go with a particular skill set, reach out to colleagues who have been in your shoes before.
Even if they’re not ready to step up as mentors yet, they’ll likely know how to help point you in the right direction.
7) Be selective about friendships
While being friendly is important in the workplace, having too many well-wishers can be overwhelming. Be careful not to say hi to everyone you meet or take on any responsibilities that are not your job.
Be selective about who you spend time with and how you spend it. Set boundaries so people don’t encroach on your personal space or time while at work and be mindful of how often you connect socially with people outside of work hours.
When the focus is on work, efficiency prevails. Also, keep the go fever and the groupthink phenomenon in mind so as to avoid bad decision-making.
8) Take some risks and grow
If you don’t take risks, you’ll never grow. Taking risks forces you to stretch your comfort zone and grow in the process.
It’s important to be flexible and do what’s best for the company, but it’s also important to take care of yourself so that you can continue providing value and inspiration. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, growth is necessary if you want to keep up with the ever-changing world around us.
By taking risks, you are encouraging growth for both yourself and those around you. You might learn something new about yourself or learn more about how other people work. Growth has never been easier to achieve than today because of the digital age we live in!
So, there are many ways to transition from employee to leader. Regardless of the career path you take, it is imperative that you don’t overlook the importance of building relationships with your coworkers and empowering them.
Don’t wait until you have a new leadership position to start strategizing your way up the corporate ladder. Do it now, so when it’s time, you’re ready to make an impact.