The Leader’s Edge/Leaders By Design is pleased to announce
February’s featured coach, Joe Toto.
Throughout this month Joe will be answering career and leadership development questions submitted by clients and colleagues. If you have a specific question you would like Joe or one of our future feature coaches to answer please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a newly appointed leader with a much larger role than ever before, what should I focus on first to be successful?
The first area is your organization. Your organization expects you to deliver certain results. As a new leader it is especially important that you establish exactly what these results are with your manager and other key stakeholders who depend on you and your department. Some new leaders jump in with a flurry of activity that may be off the mark of what the organization expects of them and some new leaders wait too long to find out what is really expected of them. You might invest sometime before making any decisions in asking various people in the organization who have a stake in your success, what they would like to see from you and the organization going forward. As the new leader, you can do an assessment very easily in the first few weeks of your tenure.
The second area is your team. They are watching you very closely to see if you are both capable to lead and care about them and their success and development. Have you met with each of them to determine what they do, what they would like to do more of and what their aspirations are for themselves and the team? This personal time with each of them early on will demonstrate your commitment to their growth and development while fleshing out any ideas they may have for better leadership. If one of the team member was overlooked for the job you hold, it is a good time to neutralize any feelings of resentment he or she may have.
The third area is yourself. How will the new demands affect your level of stress and energy and impact on your life and family? What about your own professional growth and development? If you don’t pay attention to these issues, your overall capacity to be successful in your new role will likely be diminished. Build a charter for both your team’s business objectives and for what you will need in terms of support to get the work done and share with your boss to ensure you are both on the same page.
The scope of your role may have expanded and for sure will be more demanding but there are still three areas you need to focus on to be successful. They are your organization, your team and yourself.
My organization seems to have a very political culture. I’m not good at or really interested in politics at work. I prefer to concentrate on the job and get things done but will I be able to?
Individuals like you who are focused on results and getting things done are very valuable to an organization. However, you are on to something when you wonder if you can be successful if you don’t pay attention to office politics. Organizational politics themselves are not going to go away and in fact in their best meaning are often the way astute leaders are able to influence others, sell ideas to get things done and reap the rewards of career visibility.
However, there are two extremes of how political some individuals can be. There are some who use politics for their own self-promotion, agendas and power and even cross the line in some circumstances and engage in unethical behaviors that are not in the organization’s best interests. Then there are some who want nothing to do with politics and think that hard work and the best ideas will prevail and one’s career will be recognized and rewarded. A bit like your own view perhaps?
The keys to getting organizational politics right are to maintain your integrity, build a network so you can influence others and implement your ideas, have your handprint visible in your good work so others recognize it, and in pesky organizational conflicts know which battles to fight.