No One is Ready

Written by Laurie Hillis

Hi, I’m Laurie Hillis, I love what I do: the learning, the process, and above all, seeing how my clients grow as leaders.

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June 15, 2024

There is no way to be fully effective in a leadership role out of the gates

I listened to a podcast the other day – Trust on Purpose with Ila Edgar and Charles Feltman – in which they had a conversation with a leader about what it means to go from “doer” to leader. The leader, Sean, stated that “No one is fully ready for their first leadership role.” He’s right. No matter how much preparation, proactive development, and coaching is invested, no one can truly be fully effective in an expanded role out of the gates. And yet, that’s what we expect of ourselves, isn’t it?

Sean also talked about the idea that leadership is a career path in and of itself; independent from the skill-based career paths we start our careers in. Honing technical skills is one thing. Leading people is an entirely different thing that requires completely different skills and behaviours. It’s why we often see so many new leaders, who excelled in their trade, become highly ineffective leaders.

It reminds me of the well known statement and book title by Marshall Goldsmith – What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. I think about this often when working with coaching clients – if you are considering or have made a move from one type of work into another (like leadership), the skills and behaviours that made you successful in your original role are not the same skills and behaviours that will make you successful in your new role. The shift requires us to learn and develop new skills in order to be effective in our new role. So few of us do this.

Give Yourself Grace

If you’ve taken on a leadership role without having thought through all of this, you’re not doomed. And you’re certainly not alone. Things will be okay, especially now that you are thinking about them.

Embracing change means embracing discomfort, uncertainty, and ambiguity. It ain’t going to be easy! But if you know that, you can cut yourself some slack and recognize that growth lies beyond the confines of your comfort zones.

The weight of expectations (including your own), the fear of failure (including your own), and the complexities of decision-making can feel overwhelming. But it’s in these moments of adversity that true leadership shines. What’s needed is courage to confront what comes rolling at you head-on, to learn from setbacks, and emerge stronger than before.

No one is good at everything

None of us is supposed to be good at everything and we aren’t meant to go through life alone. Strong leadership shows up when we show up – as genuinely human (flaws and all), curious, vulnerable, open to learning – and lean on the people around us. When we call upon our teams to flank us around the things we aren’t knowledgeable about, not only do we learn from them, we gift them an opportunity to shine in their own right, and develop new skills.

Become the curious leader

When you aren’t the most skilled leader in the area you are leading, become the curious leader. Growth-oriented leaders cultivate a culture of learning, where curiosity is encouraged and mistakes are shared and viewed as opportunities for development, rather than shameful things to be hidden. Aim for transparency, openness, curiosity, trust and vulnerability. It will serve you, your team, and your organization far better than a leader too wrapped up in the weeds to notice what is happening above ground

Let’s connect:

If you want to know more about Megatrain and how we can work together, drop me a line:

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