Dear Aunty B,
I am moving from an employee role into a very senior leadership role. Off the top of your head, what are three things I should focus on that will come as a surprise to an employee moving up in the world?
Short, sweet and focused. And I do mean your question AND you as I checked you out on LinkedIn (assumption made about your height here.)
OK, my three surprises are these:
1. “What the hell do I do first?”
This is a common reaction to suddenly having to deal with a multitude of problems, opportunities, issues, calamities and panic – often in one day. To deal with this you first of all learn to not catastrophise. No matter how bad it is you have to put on your leader face and stay calm. Remember, it is not brain surgery (I hope.)
You also need to prioritise. When you just have a job you have priorities. When you are at the top you have such a long list of priorities you can go nuts. And that also means putting names against your list, i.e. delegating! Get really good at that.
2. “How the hell would I know.”
As a leader you are asked to make decisions all day. If you can’t make them quickly and decisively they bank up and the whole place starts slowing down and everyone sees you as a poor leader and sticks you on the backbench.
If you are in a new industry or even an old industry trying to reinvent it, you often have no real idea that you are making the right decision. So that means you also have to have real guts to make the decision.
3. “What the hell do I do now?”
This of course refers to strategy. When you are an employee with a job your strategy is to show up to work everyday. When you are a leader you have to invent the future for everyone else. The future is a tricky thing so you have to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.
So don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day: Prioritise, delegate, have guts, focus on strategy and create the future.
Your Aunty B