Are you wondering which leadership skills you need to step into a new management role? Although there is a wide range of books and online resources on the subject of management, you might not have the time to explore them before stepping into your new role. In this article, I shall offer you some key guidance, tips, and tools to help you succeed.
What is the difference between a manager and a leader?
As a leader, you would set clear strategies and share a compelling vision of the future. You would establish teams of people who are ready to work towards achieving the strategies and make the necessary changes. You would energise and inspire others especially when they face challenging times. As a manager, you would be focusing on the delivery of the processes. You could manage budgeting, coordinate projects, take on supervisory responsibilities and set clear procedure to follow.
Finding the right balance is key. At times, managers need to step into leadership positions and leaders may be involved in operational activities and coordinating resources. It is essentials that you are able to switch roles if needed and demonstrate flexibility.
How can I step into a team leader position?
You may have worked as a team member for the last few years, and it is time to step into a team leader position. At first sight, it may seem like an easy move. However, many people struggle when being promoted. Working as a team member, you have most probably developed a deep expertise in your subject area. You have established harmonious relationships with your peers and excelled at delivering your tasks. Stepping into a team leader role may involve you supervising the work of your former peers. If you have worked at the same level for a long while, this can be emotionally challenging for both you and your colleagues. Some of your peers may have also tried to get the promotion you have received and there may be a sense of resentment. Working as a team leader, you may need to split your time between delivering operational tasks, as well as managing your team. Time management, organisational and communication skills would be more important than before. It will no longer be sufficient to deliver your tasks well. You would also need to a look after your team, provide them with coaching and correct their actions if needed.
What are the key characteristics of an effective leader?
Being a leader in post-pandemic times is significantly different from the past. Leaders need to be more confident and more resilient than ever before. They will need to constantly keep an eye on what is happening outside the organisation. Working as a leader in higher education means that you would need to consider changes within the wider higher education sector as well as the wider business environment. You would need to follow new technological and economic developments. Skilled leaders are also able to develop harmonious relationships with individuals and create successful teams. They realise that teams which work well together lead to more productivity. When people are engaged and motivated, they will show more commitment and loyalty towards the organisation.
Key leadership skills to help your team succeed
Listening is often an underrated skill. When we fail to listen, we no longer understand what is going on around us. To get the best out of your team, it is essential that you can listen carefully to their concerns, and you are able to put yourself in their shoes. You might like to arrange weekly or two weekly catch-up meetings with individual team members. These meetings could contribute to building positive relationships and be more aware of how you could support your team better.
Become a role model:
It is essential that you can walk your talk and you are transparent in your communications. If you are expecting your team to be organised, motivated and committed, you would need to demonstrate these skills first.
Developing our communication skills is never a one-off event. It is a continuous journey as we constantly need to polish our communication skills. Your team members may come from a wide range of geographical, cultural, professional, or academic backgrounds. You would need to adjust your communications to each individual in order to make them feel understood, appreciated, and supported.
Tips and tools to remain organized and up to date:
Learn coaching skills
Many organisations (including those in the higher education sector) offer coaching courses for new managers. Also, there are a range of external courses you could explore. Coaching techniques could help you to get the best out of your team at meetings, to conduct performance reviews and to engage in self-coaching.
Find a coach for yourself
It can be challenging to step into a new management or leadership role. A skilled coach could help you settle into your new role, they can talk through your challenges, and brainstorm some solutions with you. Your employer may offer internal coaching sessions delivered by senior staff members.
In your new role, you might feel slightly overwhelmed at first. There will be a range of new things to learn, technical courses to take, new people to meet, and tight deadlines to meet. You might find it helpful to use Trello which is a fantastic project management tool.
Do you often feel that you have no time to think? Are you spinning lots of plates and fear that you might miss something essential? Devoting regular 20-minute periods of reflection can be helpful. You could take a notebook and a pen and make a list of all the things you are trying to accomplish. Then, you could look at the 3 most important ones to tackle first. It is best to schedule reflective times on a weekly basis. It will help you to become more clear on your priorities, to be more focused, and also to be more productive in your work.
Further your career development advice:
- Career Development Tips From A Career Coach
- Career Development Toolkit for Higher Education Professionals
- Managing Your Continuing Professional Development
- Speak Up! Your Secret Weapon for Career Success