You have excelled technically and now you have been promoted to manager. You have achieved and as a result management has decided that you should be promoted. This happened to me on two occasions. I found myself a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of having to lead and also consciously aware of my inexperience.
There are 3 main challenges that new managers must face to successfully transition from the strong technical expert or achiever and move to leadership.
The first challenge is that the criteria for success has changed color. The color was black or white representing success or failure. Now the color most prevalent is gray, meaning success criteria is a bit more fuzzy. The foundation for success has transitioned from individually getting things done to skill in relationships. A shift in your success mindset is essential.
For reflection: How do define success as a manager / leader? How do you now measure success as a manager / leader?
The second challenge is that you will now be in the middle faced with a dilemma each day called relational triangles or Karpman’s Triangle. This exciting event means that you risk being in the middle or taking on a role that will erode your ability to successfully lead. Psychologists call it Transactional Analysis or Karpman Drama. Either way, emotional triangles exist and your job is to stay differentiated. Avoid the middle by encouraging others to own their work and not pull you into the Messiah role. Many managers burnout because they seek to rescue their employees vs. seeking to develop them.
Consider the “3 E’s” for Development in this short video –
For reflection: When an employee shares a challenge they are having with their peer, what is your default response? How would you like to respond to demonstrate differentiated leadership?
The third challenge is facing the often uncomfortable tasks of giving feedback, resolving conflict and holding others accountable. Before your highest ROI was getting the next sale, releasing the next version of the software or designing the next best product. Now your best use of time is investing in the development of your team. Remember that people leave their manager not their job.
For reflection: As you review your last 30 days, how much time were you doing vs. leading / developing? What percentage do you want it to be?
These challenges will never go away and must be approached to ensure you are becoming a successful leader.