Stepping Up in Your Role as a New Leader

Susan M. Barber
6 min readFeb 7, 2022

Climbing to higher roles in an organization brings a lot of additional responsibility, but it also brings added pressure.

  • Can you trust those around you?
  • What will you do to prove they made the right decision?
  • How can you avoid failure?

When asked about their promotion, most people would say to other people that it is amazing and just like I hoped it would be. What they say in their head though, is that I hope I can keep it or what if I make mistakes and they demote me or let me go?

They say that it is lonely at the top for a reason. It takes time to acclimate yourself to this bigger role and you need to give yourself some grace as you learn. No one is perfect and you don’t have to be either, even if it feels like you do. It is an amazing thing that you got the role. In order to step up and be more visible, you have to focus on playing to win instead of focusing on playing not to lose.

Move away from those self-limiting beliefs that hold you back from stepping up as the leader you know you can be.

Natalie worked really hard to get to the VP level in her company. It wasn’t easy and she was so excited and proud of herself that she had finally reached this huge goal. She came to meet with me because although she had done what she had set out to do, she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep it. She felt paralyzed by her fears and wasn’t sure how to move past them. Some of Natalie’s fears were: What if I can’t operate at this level? What if I can’t handle the politics? Who can I trust? How can I avoid making mistakes?

Leaders have a choice of how to respond to the doubts and fears.

Natalie could buy into the story that she was telling herself. She could sabotage this great opportunity to make an impact by hesitating to do things or avoiding what she knew she needed to accomplish. Her other option was to find a way to become the leader that she envisioned being at this level.

Natalie chose the latter option and reached out for help. We spent the time identifying her fears and doubts. Through coaching, we worked on how she wanted to see herself vs how she saw herself currently. We focused on actions that she could take to be visible and be that leader that she knew she could be. As she moved away from those self-limiting beliefs that held her back, she regained her confidence in herself. She stepped into being the leader that she knew she could be.

Take the opportunity to use your voice to make a difference and do something that others can’t imagine doing, but you can.

Even as leaders you have to hear no. A no doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation, but it happens quite often. The person presenting the idea hears no and doesn’t do anything different to continue to move it forward.

Three major studios passed on the Star Wars movie before another agreed to fund it. The Star Wars movie franchise has grossed more than $10 billion dollars making actors and their characters household names, not to mention all the toys, costumes, and merchandise that are replicated from the movies. What if that movie had never been made because someone just accepted the no and moved on with their life?

Giving up and playing small isn’t what will get a program off the ground. Accepting a yes is easier but it doesn’t change how people see you. Having the courage to stand up and fight for something you believe in is hard, but that is what visibility is about.

It is about taking the opportunity to use your voice to make a difference and do something that others can’t imagine doing, but you can. This is how you stand out amongst the crowd. For those who have the resilience to keep going forward no matter what, they will be the ones who are thought of when big opportunities come along.

Visibly manage change and be the leader that helps others to do the same.

New leaders come into an organization and want to make an impact, which means change. Organizational changes, project changes, acquisitions, divestitures and business changes to stay competitive are a few of the types of changes that a leader in a corporate environment will encounter each day.

All of these changes can be a challenge to navigate. They can create more work and be overwhelming until decisions are made on priorities. This is the time when a leader has a choice to make. They can resist the change or move forward towards acceptance. Change is a constant and it is going to happen one way or another, is it just a matter of time.

If you are resisting a change, know that the resistance you feel comes from fear and it prevents acceptance.

The lack of direction and chaos that change brings creates a lot of open questions. What will the change mean for you and your team? How will things be different? What other changes are going to come next? The fear of the unknown will hold you back from showing up as the leader that you want to be if you let it. The stress and anxiety can make you play small and wish everything would go back to the way it was before. That isn’t possible and you can’t avoid it.

Think about the changes that you have been through in the past. Did you resist the change or accept it? Did you play small or play bigger? These situations present opportunities for the leader to step up and talk about the change in a positive way. Help the team see the opportunities that can come from change so they can move forward. This is the time that you can demonstrate how you can visibly manage change and be the leader that helps others to do the same.

Spend time being more strategic and planful.

You can’t be successful when you are worrying about each and every thing that you do and how it will be perceived. You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to spend time being more strategic and planful. Ask yourself some of these questions…What do you think is right to do? Is the decision I am making the best one for the company? What type of impact could it have? What value could it bring? How can it be delivered successfully?

The negative playing not to lose view vs the positive playing to win view. Focus on trusting yourself and doing what you think is right. You need to build relationships with others to get things done but be strategic about it. Leverage your influence in a positive way and find ways to add value to others. It will bring more reciprocity your way and help you succeed. Communicate what you and your team are doing so others know and can see the great work you are doing. This is how you can amplify your voice and create visibility for yourself as a leader.

And if you need individualized support, then reach out to me! One conversation can make all the difference. Here is the link to set up a time with me for a 30-minute chat.

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.



Susan M. Barber

Coaching leaders on authentic ways to show their value & create visibility for their personal brand | Leadership Coach & Consultant|