The Gaps in Your Work Habits
Show Up When You Move Up
by Dr. Karen Otazo
Excerpted from The Truth About
Being A Leader... and Nothing but
Moving into leadership is like moving up in
school. No matter how smart and motivated you are, if you don't
know how to organize yourself, the complexity of your new
environment will overwhelm you.
You probably advanced because you were the best at what you did.
But what got you to where you are may not work anymore. In the
past, you may have been able to "wing it" by relying on your
wits, but the higher you go on the organizational chart, the
more complicated things get.
George unexpectedly moved up from managing 12 salesmen to
leading all his company's sales and marketing employees. A smart
and enthusiastic leader, he found that he could no longer do
what he used to do, which was drift around his department as he
cajoled, praised, and pumped up his 12 people. Now he had 29
direct reports and a total of 400 people reporting to him. The
little things he used to do, like going out with some of his
team members for happy hour, didn't go down well with his new
Your new leadership position will require you to hone your
personal work habits:
Keep up with scheduling. Ensure that you or someone who works
for you puts every appointment and meeting on your calendar and
that you show up on time.
Delegate using quality standards and due dates. Give your
staff enough guidance and time to get their work done, and then
hold them to their deadlines.
Follow up on delegation and commitments. Have your assistant
keep a follow-up file so that you are on top of all delegated
Make decision-making clear. Let others know if your decisions
include them and whether they have input into your decisions.
Also let them know when a decision is theirs to make.
You advanced because you were the best at what you did. But
what got you to where you are may not work anymore.
Follow the money. Have someone keep track of budget figures
and expenditures on a monthly basis and balance the inflow and
Ensure fairness in all you say and do. Use checklists to keep
track of which staff members you compliment or coach so that you
don't inadvertently ignore some of them.
Let go of being one of the guys. Find leader-like and
appropriate ways to interact in your new role. Spend time with
your team and colleagues at meetings and meals. You need to
forge a new way of working with others that is based on your
leadership status, and sometimes that means maintaining some
distance from your group.
Unless you invest enough time and thought into setting up
effective working systems and relationships early on, you will
get into bad habits and will never be able to advance very far.
You'll get overwhelmed, like George, by the complexity, the
meetings, and your inability to control the details you used to
attend to. And the better you were at doing your job before, the
more frustrated you will be about not being able to do what you
used to do. Moving up as a leader involves a lot of letting go
while still guiding others with interest and support. The sooner
you stop doing parts of your old job and embrace the complexity
of your new job, the more effective you will become.