Entering a New Leadership Role? (Part 2)
Remember your first love. When we get a job, either out of necessity, or because we are choosing for move on to a new adventure, we are usually very excited initially. Everything is new, and there are ample opportunities to learn and to build new relationships. We are excited to use our knowledge and skills to solve new problems. However, over time, our work may become a litany of role, mundane tasks, which we can do in our sleep! When this happens, it is our responsibility to remind ourselves of our first love, which we had for the job in the beginning. Think about what excited you the most: the job itself, possibilities for promotion and career advancement, opportunities to network and create relationships with co-workers, etc.
Once you’ve identified your first love, find ways to incorporate those components into your everyday work- life. Ask your Supervisor for an opportunity to work on a new project. Brainstorm problems which you’ve noticed within your workplace, and develop creative solutions for them. Look for ways to streamline operations and conserve resources, while increasing productivity within your role or department. Present these solutions to Management.
Identify your career goals, and determine where and how your current positions fits into your overall plan. Apply for a promotion, or seek ways to improve your career standing by reading books, attending conferences, and acquiring additional certifications and credentials. Contact the Human Resources department, or a Career Coach, to determine all of the options available to you.
Develop ways to promote collaboration, cooperation, and positive recognition within the workplace. Propose the idea of starting a department softball team, or encourage co-workers to meet for monthly off-site activities, such as game night or happy hour. Off-site interactions often help co-workers to experience a different, more fun side of one another, which can be useful toward developing collaborative relationships within the workplace. In summary, reflect upon what attracted you to your position in the first place, and find opportunities to incorporate those elements into your everyday work experiences.
Take a comprehensive self-inventory. Possessing a keen awareness of your strengths and aptitudes will help develop your intrinsic motivation levels. Take the time to complete a personality assessment, a learning style quiz, an aptitude assessment, and a work style assessment. Fortunately, many of these instruments are available online, free of charge, or with minimal fees. Look for a reputable site, and complete 2 or 3 of each type of assessment, to ensure that you receive reliable results. Armed with this knowledge, find ways to incorporate your findings into your work. For example, I completed an aptitude assessment in middle school. Based upon my responses, the results indicated that I would enjoy teaching, or working in the human services industry. Each job that I’ve had has allowed me to do one of those two things, and as a result, I’ve enjoyed each position I’ve held. Also, I am an auditory learner, which means that I can easily integrate and apply knowledge that is transmitted orally. In our department meetings, I listen and take notes. If graphs or charts are presented, I find ways to translate that information into an auditory or written form, so that I can best remember and apply it. Oftentimes, making small adjustments to your work, based upon the results of these self- assessments can go a long way in reigniting your intrinsic motivation.
Regroup: make a plan. You’ve taken the time to remember your first love, and you’ve learned a few new things about yourself. Now is the time to conduct a S.WO.T. analysis of your current position. On a blank sheet of paper, create 4 large boxes. Label each box Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. List each of the Strengths of your job: salary and benefits, opportunities for advancement, networking and collaboration, level of control and autonomy, level of fit in career plan, etc. List out the internal Weaknesses of the position, or areas in need of improvement to make it a great fit for you. List Opportunities that the position offers: how the job helps meet departmental, organizational, and industry goals, etc. List external Threats to your position: downsizing, outplacement, technology disruptions, etc.
Now you have created a comprehensive picture of your current employment situation. On a separate sheet of paper, brainstorm innovative ideas to combat the Weaknesses and Threats listed. Use your knowledge form your First Love, Self- Assessments, Strengths, and Opportunities sections, to create a personal and professional development plan for how you wish to redesign or supplement your position, to become your dream job/ career: What aspects of the job do you enjoy, and which ones need to be changed? How can the changes be implemented in a way which aligns with your current career or company goals?
Enlist help. No man is an island, and it is impossible to successfully implement any plan alone. Reach out to those around you for help. Share you plan with family members, co-workers, Career Coach, Supervisor, and encourage them to offer suggestions, advice, and support. You may be surprised that your quest to improve your work experience may also have a positive impact on the performance and morale and those around you, not to mention possibly putting you in the direction of opportunities for promotion!
Execute. Go out there and get your feet wet! You’ve reflected, created a plan, and solicited support from your network. You are ready to implement! Remember that a positive attitude is essential for this step. Steps 1-4 probably haven’t changed much in regards to the stressors of your work environment, at this point. Lay-offs may still be inevitable, employee morale may still be low, and company profits may still be flowing down the drain. As a matter of fact, the situation may look down-right hopeless, and you may feel like throwing in the towel.
Make a decision to look at the bright side of things, every day, no matter what. When you arrive to work each morning, greet everyone you see with a hello, and a friendly smile. Separate yourself from negativity and gossip. In the Board Room, combat negative responses with positive ones. Do everything in your power to create an environment of peace, tolerance, high- quality work, and organizational commitment. And work your plan!
Evaluate your success. Check in with yourself 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after the initial implementation of your plan. How do you feel about your job/ career path today? What is working, and what isn’t? What can you do to improve your job satisfaction, the job satisfaction of your co-workers, and the achievement of organizational goals? Take the time to reflect, and make adjustments as needed. It may be helpful to conduct another S.W.O.T. analysis, to help organize your thoughts. Executive Coaching is also a great way to prepare, execute, and evaluate your leadership strategies and impact.