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Coach's Corner--February 18, 2008

New position will require new skill set to ensure success

The Client
Name: Jean
Age: 45
Title: Communications manager
Years in business: 15 (four in current role)
Industry: Insurance
Issue: Succeeding in higher-level role
Q. I will be moving to a new position in my department that will provide more leadership opportunities and accountability for a broader portfolio of work. What should I be keeping in mind as I change jobs within the same environment so that I set myself up for success? 

A. As your question shows, you know that the same skills that helped you succeed in your current role are likely not the same ones you’ll need in your new position.

What is a leader?
The first step is to clarify your vision of great leadership. Think about people whose leadership you’ve admired. What qualities did they exhibit? Also, reflect on people whose leadership skills have been lacking. What characteristics were missing?

Well-developed emotional intelligence is a hallmark of good leadership. High-performing leaders know themselves well, are empathetic, can manage stress, are adaptable and bring an optimistic spirit to the workplace. Chances are that the strong leaders you’ve seen demonstrate many emotional intelligence skills. Take a moment to list the qualities that embody good leadership for you.

The inner game
Using your definition of leadership, have a look at yourself. Where do you stand? You may be strong in some characteristics and wish to develop more in others. Try writing a performance review of yourself. Ask others for feedback or complete an assessment that will give you insight into your current level of emotional intelligence. Whatever method you use, take a candid look at your own strengths and areas for development. Many people find it easy to be hard on themselves; it’s equally important to acknowledge your strengths.

The outer game
Now, take action. Select one or two key leadership attributes to focus on, based on your self-assessment and knowledge of your workplace. These may be strengths that you’d like to use in new ways, or areas you’d like to improve. Get specific.

For example, consider conflict management. A general goal might be to become more assertive (one of the emotional intelligence competencies). But that’s vague and hard to act on. However, you may have observed that you tend to be either overly aggressive or very passive in high-conflict situations. Set a goal to understand what is influencing your behavior and think about how to achieve the desired tone.

Next, determine any internal or external barriers to working on your development items, and create an action plan. Make sure your action items are concrete and time-specific; otherwise, it’s too easy to let yourself off the hook. Finally, remember that change can be hard. It’s important to have the support of others, anticipate challenges and have plans to surmount them, and to be patient with yourself as you build new habits.

The last word
The great news is that all of these leadership skills can be learned. With commitment and focus, you will position yourself for success in your new role.

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted February 18, 2008
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