Pushing Past Fear as a Leader
Every time a leader moves up to the next level it brings excitement, but it also brings out doubts and insecurities.
It can also happen when you take on more responsibilities that are new to you. One of my business mentors referred to it as a new “first.” This is when you go through something for the first time. It feels uncomfortable and it is filled with unknowns. It is completely normal and the same experience that everyone goes through when they take on something new. They may not admit it, but they feel the same thing.
Think back to when you were a kid, there were so many firsts that you experienced: riding your bike, learning how to swim, going to grade school, and learning to drive. You navigated all of those firsts successfully. So why is this different? When you were a kid, you had someone (a parent or a friend) behind you cheering you on to do it. Now you are on your own.
As you grow older you have to push through the uncomfortable and know inside that you can navigate this change. Don’t let yourself hide and miss out on a great opportunity. There isn’t someone there to hold your hand, but you don’t need them to do that anymore. You have to trust that you know what to do or you will figure it out with the help of others. These types of “firsts” help you to grow and develop the most.
Focus on what you can control and accomplish.
Don’t allow yourself to get caught in fear or comparison mode. No one is expecting you to know everything on day one, so why put that type of expectation on yourself? Instead, focus on slowing down, so you can be curious, listen, ask questions and build up your competency in this new space. This will not be your last “first” in your career. Give yourself the time to learn how to do it in the best way so you are better prepared for the next one.
You have 90 days to figure everything out when you take on something new, so use that time to show up and take it all in. Then you can take all those learnings and apply them to make this new space your own. This will allow others to visibly see how well you managed the change and think about you for future opportunities.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Delegating to team members is a challenge for any manager whether they are brand new or have been leading teams for years.
It requires a shift in mindset on the best way to get the work done through others and not do it themselves.
It is common for leaders to see what their team members are doing and then try to protect them. Deep inside, many of them want to be liked and are afraid of the conflict. They rationalize that they are the leader of the team and it would be easier for them to just do the work themselves. It makes sense to them because they can get it done faster, and they don’t have to take the time to explain it to their team members.
However, there are implications when a leader chooses not to delegate to the team.
It hurts the growth of the team and the leader may be viewed as ineffective. Leading a team means that you have to step out of the details and let the team be the subject matter experts. That isn’t easy to do when you have been the one who has a reputation for what you know and you love to answer any question that comes your way. It is a struggle because now you have to rely on and trust your team to know those answers.
Can you see it as an opportunity instead of a struggle? Focus on the future state of your team and your personal brand. The team needs to learn the skills that you have already learned. They need the opportunities that you already have been through so they can grow. Teach them and trust them to get the work done. Build in opportunities for them to get visibility and coach them behind the scenes. As the leader, you have higher value things to focus on. Your time should be spent on managing up, influencing, and developing the team. Ask yourself “Why am I not delegating this?”
This shift to delegating vs doing will move you out of your comfort zone, but it lets your management see that you can accomplish a lot more and lead a team effectively. Delegate with intention. Have the conversation to help your team understand how this will help them and share the outcomes that you expect. This will help free up time so that you can focus on the strategic work, increase the value of your personal brand and help your organization for the long term.
Pushing Past Fear to Build Your Influence
The visibility of working with influencers is huge and helps the leader get so much done. However, what can sometimes happen is that a leader will put one of these influencers up on a pedestal and talk themselves out of meeting with them because of fear.
The fear feels very real and so the meeting never happens. It may also be a new experience that they haven’t done before and they put a lot of pressure on themselves to do it perfectly. That also allows delays to happen because perfection is unattainable!
Focus on keeping things simple.
Come into an influencing conversation from a place of curiosity. Ask them questions about their challenges, how things are going with their team and projects. Look for opportunities to add value or support them somehow. This is just a conversation with another human being. Give yourself the spotlight too. Share what you are doing and how your team is doing if you have one.
Influencing is about building relationships and leveraging them to get things done.
You never know what can come out of a good conversation that helps you build a strong relationship. It is better to build it now when you are just offering your help to them. When you need to ask for their help later, it will be just a simple ask of a colleague, not a stranger.
Do you struggle with pushing past your fear as a leader? If you want my help, here is the link to set up a time with me: 30-minute conversation.
Susan M Barber, President of Susan M Barber Coaching & Consulting, LLC, works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build skills that leaders need to attain breakthrough results. Her passion for coaching and leadership development is driven by seeing the transformation of leaders as they reach far beyond their own ideas of success. She continues to drive custom programs for groups that want to make changes in their careers to become more powerful leaders.