Have you ever tried brushing your teeth with your other hand? The BBC documentary 'Get Smarter in a Week' showed that doing this and other mental exercises (like doing crossword puzzles, or using your computer mouse with the other hand) can actually boost what your brain is capable of doing!
So while you're moving your mouse over to the other side of your keyboard, consider this: if you've ever tried brushing your teeth with your other hand (or completing familiar tasks blindfolded), you'll know that it feels awkward and unnatural. Change is like that for most people too: awkward and unnatural.
Managing change is often the thing that people moving into new leadership roles find the most difficult. But after all, isn't change what leadership's all about? If people are doing the same as they've always done, surely they don't need much leadership? Or, to put it another way: if you're not leading change, what are you leading?
Kevin Eikenberry's book 'From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership<!––>' offers some really good advice for people making the transition into leadership. He says that leadership is complex; it's an action, a responsibility, an opportunity. He also says that leadership isn’t a title or position, a power grab, or a gift from birth.
He emphasises three key steps to making a successful transition:
- Talk to your boss: It shows your commitment, elicits support, and builds positive momentum. It also help you to get a clear sense of what their expectations are of you, and a shared description of what success looks like. Establish a schedule of ongoing conversations so you have an opportunity for them to provide feedback, and for you to learn more about your role and their experience.
- Talk with your team: Define success together so everyone knows what it looks like, set goals, and talk about the things that are in the players’ control and the things that aren't. A big part of these conversations is acknowledging the transition, the changing relationships, your role, and your expectations of them. Remeber that it's just as important to ask them about their expectations of you, and to ask for their help and patience.
- Talk to yourself (no not literally): Just acknowledge that your world is changing, and you must change with it. You won’t get it right first time (or every time), so you need to be patient with yourself. Remember—you can succeed. Success will be built, in part, on the skills, knowledge, and experience that got you this far: draw up a list of them and refer to them often. Make sure you make the most of your strengths and manage around your weaknesses: listen to others, ask people what they think, and always be open to feedback.
Making the transition 'from bud to boss' can feel awkward and unnatural, but by following advice like that offered by Eikenberry, you can increase not only what you're capable of, but also the capabilities of those around you.
Here's one thing you can do about this. This is one of the leadership strategies that we will explore in greater depth at the CORE Education Emerging Leaders' Summit on June 15–16.