Stepping Up With Confidence

March 31st, 2015

Make the step to the Executive or Senior Team work for you

Often when I work with people who have recently been promoted to a Senior or Executive role, they are struggling to find their feet and to feel confident and competent in their new role. They often express doubt in their ability to perform at this level and a feeling of being an “imposter” or waiting to be “caught out”

What is it that makes confident, high performers often feel like a fish out of water when they reach their goal of joining the Executive Team? As with lots of things in life there is often a difference between the expectation and the reality, the landscape and the view when in the Executive Team is often very different from how the landscape and view appeared while looking in from the outside.

Here are some key things to consider as you approach that move to the senior team, that can make it more comfortable or which may help you to regain that confidence and competence if you have recently been promoted to a senior role

As part of an Executive or Senior Team you will now be expected to take a view and responsibility for the business as a whole and not only your own area of expertise or team. This can sometimes take a while for people to fully understand and therefore be able to adjust their mindset accordingly.  

1. Concentrate on listening and observing at initial meetings as opposed to contributing this will help you to understand the expectations of the meetings, the role of each of the members, any politics in play, make you more comfortable and able to listen effectively, if you aren’t concentrating on what you need to say.  All of which will allow you to make more valuable contributions later
2. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your other team members to see if you can understand their point of view even when you felt you disagreed with it
3. Spend time with other members of the team to understand their area of the business and remit more fully, along with their goals and challenges

Thinking not Doing
En-route to this role and promotion you will no doubt have been measured and rewarded to some degree on the output and /or contribution of you and your team. You may have always been extremely busy with little time to think or plan.
You are now however responsible for being part of the team that lead the whole business as well as leading a key part of the business, so what does this mean for you?  Whether you are leading a team that is new to you or have taken a step up from within your own team, it is really critical to take some time to really understand each of the people within the team and to reflect on what you would like to achieve. Too often I see people who have been so keen to jump in or “make their mark” that they later have to undo a lot of their early actions in their new role as they didn’t fully understand, made assumptions or assumed they already knew the people.

1. One of your key roles is thinking about how your team can contribute to the wider business vision, and strategy and how you can enable and develop your team to achieve this through a shared vision, strategy and culture which you lead effectively as part of the wider company
2.  Being able to lead effectively means that you need to set aside quality time to spend with each of your direct reports, really listening to their feedback and understanding how you can support them to develop and achieve their goals
3.  Effective delegation will be key for your own leadership development and your ability to lead and develop your team and to ensure that you delegate your previous role and areas of responsibility and develop a strong team around you.
4. It is also likely to be the case that in this new role you need to expand your knowledge of the marketplace and spend more time interacting with your customers, suppliers and competitors and build a strong external network 

Fear of Making Yourself Redundant
Often when I work with people and they are at the stage of becoming more effective at thinking rather than doing and are able to stand back from the day to day work in the business an element of fear or even panic sets in.

I have found that often this is due to being in change mode but not having quite reached your destination yet. It is also something that people are very unwilling to discuss with colleagues or their MD as even admitting to themselves that this fear exists and understanding it is quite difficult.
You may not yet be fully clear how you are going to spend all of you time, and not see your new role with full clarity yet. It may also be completely alien to you to have time to think

1. Remind yourself that you are now paid to think not act
2.  Ask yourself if you were to act, what would you do? Whose role is it to now do this? What impact would you have if you were to act?
3.  Understand that this fear is a natural part of the change process and that by acknowledging and feeling this fear you are well on your way through the change process and to moving to feel more comfortable in your new role.
4. In order to see your role more clearly it can often help to think what success would look like 2 to 3 years ahead and then work backwards to what steps you need to take or what you need to put in place to make this success a reality.


Be aware of your comfort zone
As you make the change into your new role, adjust your mindset to take a company-wide view, move from doing to thinking, lead rather than manage and move through the change process to rid yourself of a fear of becoming redundant and gain real clarity in your new role, there is often at points a powerful draw to retreat to your comfort zone of the past.This however can be counterproductive in a number of ways

1.    What makes your comfort zone comfortable
2.    Where has this taken you? Back into the realms of doing and managing perhaps?
3.    Often when I hear the term micro management from a team it is because their leader has retreated to their comfort zone

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