How to Transition from Doing to Managing

The toughest transition I see with new leaders is to move from doing to managing. All those things you were celebrated and rewarded for in your last role aren’t part of this new role. You need to master some new skills to be successful in this role. Here are three tips to help with this transition.

1 – Let go of your old identity. So often, I’ll ask new leaders to tell me about themselves, and it’s easy for them to go back to their old identity. “I was the top salesperson in my region.” This role requires a new self-image, “I coach my team to be high performers based on my experience and their skills.” Let go of who you were as an individual contributor because your new role is accountable for the success of a larger goal.

2 – Identify the traits your team needs in a manager. Think of the best managers you had; what were their best qualities? Did they give you autonomy? Would they listen to your challenges without jumping in to solve everything quickly? Now think about your team members; when have you seen them at their best and what role did their manager play? When I lead a very diverse team, some were motivated by public recognition while others preferred a personal email, letter, or conversation. Some wanted me to tell them the answer while others wanted to talk through situations. Remember your new role is to make the team succeed so adapt to their needs.

3 – Find sources of support and inspiration. Know that you are not in this alone. The weight of the world shouldn’t be on your shoulders. The new role is a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and take on new tasks. Find ways you can keep getting better by learning from books, podcasts, and mentors. Find someone (of course, I’d recommend a Leadership Coach like me) to support you by talking through sticky situations, defining goals, and being your accountability partner.

Finally, remember your role is not to do your team’s job. As tempting as it may be to jump in and ghostwrite a tough email for them or fix some corrupt code; figure out how you can support your team to do their job. It may take longer, and it may get to a point when you realize a team member should be a different role and separate from the company. Resist the urge and don’t do the work; manage the work.

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