Work and Wellbeing · 23 March 2020

Preparing for leadership: 4 things you need to know

As your career develops or you decide to start your own business you will inevitably find yourself in a leadership role. Leadership gives you the opportunity to shape an organisation and to turn a vision into reality. However, people often have unrealistic expectations and find the reality of a leadership role tougher than they imagined.

Let’s look at aspects of leadership that will be helpful to consider before you get promoted or launch out to start your dream business.

1. Your leadership will be stretched and tested

Nobody comes to leadership completely unprepared. We bring skills and knowledge to the table, most of which will be useful. For example, if you are good with numbers, this will help you make a certain decision; if you are good with people, it will help bond with your team; if you are good at communication it will help your ideas will gain traction quickly.

However, you may not have all the skills required. It’s likely that at some point you will need to step up and embrace new tasks and learn new skills.

It’s also likely that, as part of your leadership journey, you will learn a few home truths. For me, the biggest discovery was that I perhaps wasn’t as organised or structured as I thought I was.

2. Attitude matters most

You might be great at communicating with others, generating new ideas, or developing detailed strategies. but you will be judged more on your attitude towards your role than on your skills.

Most of us are juggling leadership roles with other areas of our life and time is often at a premium. We can feel we don’t have time to deal with certain queries or feel swamped by a problem.

Attitude is about how you tackle these challenges and constraints; how do you approach your role and take on its responsibilities?

For example, if you like to take things easy and find it hard to be very responsive when communicating, you will rapidly need to become more proactive.

If your behaviour demonstrates a poor attitude towards your role, then disillusion and disengagement will follow. It’s surprising how quickly people notice that something hasn’t been done when it should have been, or that a request went unanswered.

Throwing yourself into a new role or situation will definitely help you, regardless of your abilities. Nowadays, mountains of information on any subject are readily available, so plug any knowledge gap and find out more about your role and your task right away.

If you chose to lead, make some commitments to yourself and accept the weight of expectations placed upon you.

3. Getting to grips with detail

The visible parts of leadership are the grand visions, the speeches, meetings with colleagues, inspiring and motivating your team, seeing your vision realised, but behind this lies many hours work, often spend discussing tiny details.

In my corporate strategy days, I often spent time looking for first-hand sources of information and double-checking it.

A colleague would check my work once and reworks almost always followed. The process took time and was not always rewarding. However, it was worth it as our senior leadership team could use it to drive the business forward.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Florian Bay is District 91 Director of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org

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