When I was 29, I landed the job of my dreams. Years of hard work and study had paid off, and I moved to a new organisation, taking on an exciting, challenging role. It involved running a medical school, with responsibility for a multimillion pound budget and leading staff across different teams. I felt a massive sense of achievement, but I also quickly felt the effects of imposter syndrome. My team members were all older than me, the school was going through a major change, and I’d never had so much responsibility. I was determined to be a success, and the following steps helped me thrive as I transitioned to this new role.
Celebrate your success!
Acknowledge what you have achieved! You should be proud of any promotion, big or small. Reflect on your successes and be your own biggest cheerleader. Make a note of your key accomplishments, so you can refer back to them if you ever need a boost.
Discover who you are
Learn about who you are as a person. What is your management style? How do you handle stress? What motivates you? The better your understanding of yourself, the more you will be able to grow and address your weaknesses (which, by the way, we all have). There are so many ways to do this, including personality tests, 360 degree feedback, and skills audits.
Every organisation has a set of policies, rules, and procedures. Although it is important to adhere to these, you can still be yourself. Inject your personality into your work. Don’t be a robot or try to be someone else; people will respond better to the real you.
Learn from those above, around, and junior to you
Never assume that because someone is in a junior role, they know less than you do, or lack meaningful experience. Acknowledge and appreciate other people’s skills, experiences, and views. Doing this will contribute to a culture where people feel valued, with learning at its heart. You might be surprised by just how much knowledge you have at your fingertips!
Be kind to yourself
It’s impossible to serve others if you are not in the best state yourself. Take time out to recharge. If you are having a stressful day, take a break. Identify three ways you like to unwind, and build time for these into your schedule. Remember, as a leader, it is important to be a role model. If you have unhealthy working practices, so will your staff.
Ask for help
There can be an expectation that managers have all the answers, but this isn’t the case. If you don’t know the answer, be honest. I remember being in the office until 10 p.m., struggling to figure something out, when if I had just admitted I didn’t know the answer or asked for help, I would have saved myself a lot of time and stress!
Find the good in every situation
If you have a bad day or make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up, simply learn from it. Do you have a bad manager? View this as an opportunity to learn about what not to do. Sometimes the worst situations teach us the most. Positivity is an important leadership quality, and the more you can look on the bright side, the easier it’ll be to get through challenging times.
You might not like everyone you work with or manage. That’s absolutely fine, but you do need to treat everyone fairly and professionally, regardless of your personal feelings. Give everyone a chance, offer them all the same opportunities, don’t take sides, and most importantly, don’t make assumptions. Reflect on why you don’t like someone and what it might mean about you.
Find a mentor
Being a leader can be very lonely at times. You may not have much support from your own superiors, or might feel uncomfortable about sharing your challenges. A good mentor can help you:
- Feel supported.
- Find strategies for dealing with tricky situations.
- Have better relationships at work (and outside of work too).
- Look at the bigger picture of how your current role fits into your life, career, and future goals.
Wishing you every success.
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