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Promote Yourself

What do you tell yourself when you become a leader for the first time?

Thinking back to when I took on my first leadership role I was thinking something like – me? running a team? with people with a lot more years of experience than me? managing my friends? why would they listen to me?

And what I think about that now is that I was telling myself this to keep myself safe. The survival bit of my brain was kicking in and saying ‘you won’t be able to do it,’ – it was protecting me from failing.

This set me up not to fail exactly, but certainly not to lead as well as I could.

It set me up to behave as if I had to ‘prove’ myself capable and worthy. This manifested itself as overwork for me and lack of opportunity for my team. I had no problem delegating simpler tasks, the ones I knew I could do, if I had to, but I faced real issues delegating work where I didn’t know the answer. Because of my overriding need to ‘prove’ my competence I held onto the difficult stuff, so I could show my team (and myself!) that I was competent, capable and worthy of the leadership role. Yet in doing this I was inadvertently communicating to my team “I don’t think you can do this – this is too hard for you.”

And so if I were to have my time as a first-time leader again, what would I have done differently?

I would have learnt to Promote Myself.

Behaviour flows from mindset, so I would have re-written the script. I would have decided that “a leader’s job is not to know how to do everything, it is to know how to empower others to do things they couldn’t previously do.”

Now as I coach first-time leaders in agencies, this is a big focus. My clients spend time examining repeated thought patterns that they are having about being a leader. We look at which are helpful, unhelpful or neutral and we keep returning to these – because often the loudest thought pattern (in my case - “I need to prove myself”) masquerades as true and helpful, but turns out to be false and unhelpful.

When you decide to Promote Yourself, you are asking yourself what is the new mindset that I need to adopt that will set me up for success in this new role. More than any strategy or single action you take as a new leader, guaranteed, this is the thing that will have the biggest impact – on your own wellbeing, confidence and performance, and on that of the team.

Thank you as always for reading. If this was helpful, then like and share my post. I would also love to hear any shifts in mindset that you adopted when you became a leader for the first time and the impact of these. I am sure it will help others.

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