Aug 08 Key Leadership Strategies to Deploy Upon Promotion
I’m sure you have observed how, at times, someone succeeds at winning a promotion, but then struggles in that position and fails to lead with influence. The strategies that worked in their former position aren’t effective, or the team dynamics lack synergy. They may hunker down in their office, unable to shoulder the new responsibility, as the pressure only increases due to their lack of engagement. But we won’t let that happen to you. I’ve worked with thousands of global leaders and organizations through my Predictable Promotion™ process…and here are proven ways to ensure your next level success.
1) Be a Strategic Thinker
Companies promoted you because of your experience, perspective, and insights. Now it’s your chance to exert influence as a thought leader shining light into the stagnant corners where organizational DNA has wilted. Maintain a big-picture view.
Otherwise you’ll bog down in the weeds of details and never gain traction. Strategically delegate responsibility, and stop trying to micromanage problems, issues, and initiatives. Leadership means developing the leadership DNA of those around you.
You’re no longer just a manager, you’re the inspiration and guide for those managers who look to you to challenge and engage them. You’ve got to be more strategic than tactical, operating from a high-altitude perspective with a fresh, panoramic attitude.
2) Spell Out Your Vision & Act On It
Start to convey your vision ASAP of what you want your team to achieve. What do you want to get done this quarter and this year? How do your goals tie in with the organization’s? What success metrics are you tracking, starting today? Who is responsible and accountable for what?
Once you’ve gained clarity and focus it’s important that you pull together your direct reports sooner rather than later, and articulate that picture. Far too often, newly-promoted senior executives make a huge mistake because they wait to assess the situation and feel out the waters.
Opportunities zoom past shy and hesitant leaders, and are lost as they delay. If you miss the boat, get ready to tread water until you sink. Leaders who get people into position fast and get measurable achievements done right away are the most successful.
3) Raise the Performance Bar
You want to invest time and effort getting to know your people, listening to their needs, understanding their strengths and areas of opportunity. But don’t make the common mistake of devoting your leadership energy to that at the expense of setting down your own standards and expectations. Otherwise you’ll lose precious time and vital momentum.
Yes, if you are promoted internally it may feel awkward to start asking more effort of your former peers who are now direct reports. But what will be even more awkward is if you wait another few months and then try to convince them to change. They expect change at the moment the promotion happens, so that is the optimum time to initiate new protocols and behaviors to enhance performance and productivity.
The sooner you raise the bar and challenge those around you, the sooner they will acclimate and stretch themselves to do great things for the company. Plus, they’ll succeed sooner – and nothing motivates people like a leader who enhances their success and career prospects.
4) Observe Seasoned Senior Leaders
Now that you shoulder more responsibility and wield more influence, observe senior management, especially when they interact with your team. Never try to “save” a manager/team member when they are peppered with questions by a senior executive. Don’t interrupt to answer or speak for them. That’s a disservice because you are not letting them grow and develop.
It’s your responsibility to prepare and develop your people to answer questions, provide positive perspective, and think on their feet…with poise, preparation, and persuasiveness. Don’t run interference for them. Watch them. Train them. Listen to how they are quizzed by senior-level decision makers.
Use those observational moments as learning and teaching opportunities. Then start asking your people the same types of difficult questions you hear your superiors ask them. They will mature faster, you’ll gain invaluable insight, and when it’s time to report to the top brass your team members will be accustomed to responding to penetrating, unexpected questions…and they will shine. The brighter they shine, the more it is a reflection on you.
5) Increase Your Visibility
Broad leadership vision means broader visibility across the organizational grid. Don’t just make yourself available to the profitable sectors of the division. Small departments may not be profitable. But that is oftentimes because they are neglected and underserved by leadership. That’s your chance to strengthen their DNA and gain more sales, profitability, productivity, and employee engagement.
Nothing will teach you more than personally visiting your areas of responsibility, talking to the people on the front line, and interacting with your vendors and customers. Analyzing excel sheets and reading reports will only give you a fraction of the insight you need in order to get the results you want.
You have to get out from behind the desk to discover where the information silos are and how to replace them with collaborative teamwork. You need to talk to rank and file employees to understand what is stifling innovation or wasting time, talent, and money. Everyone respects the leader who shows they care enough to ask what issues they face and how to support them in their success. Be that kind of leader, and they’ll follow you without hesitation and give you their very best efforts and tireless loyalty.
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Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Deloitte, McKesson, Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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