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First-Time Leaders: Expectations vs Reality

If you are yourself a first-time leader or plan to promote one of your star performers to a leadership position, this article is for you.

Who are the people who get promoted to supervisory positions:

🔹They are very good at what they do,

🔹They are respected and liked by others,

🔹They have great work ethics,

🔹They are loyal to the company and patient toward rookies.

Is it enough to be a star performer? Definitely!

Is it enough to be a great leader? Not even close!

What happens when a star performer gets promoted without considering their leadership skills? A disaster! (Not always, of course, but often enough to make it a common occurrence)

What leadership skills do star performers usually miss?

✔ Coaching skills. Training new employees and coaching your team member is two different things. The former requires knowledge and patience; the latter – an understanding of human nature and active listening.

✔ Vulnerability and transparency. Usually, star performers are expected to know more than others - after all, they are the stars. Leaders, on the other hand, have to be able to rely on others for their expertise and let go of “all mighty” status to be more approachable and relatable.

✔ Combination of empathy and boundaries. To tell your team that well-being is vital and then work an 80-hour week is lousy leadership. It leads to burnout, sets a bad example for others and comes across as a “do what I say, not what I do” leadership style.

How to get through the first 6-12 months of being a Firs-Time Leader?

🔸 It took you years to become a great performer, don’t expect you to become a great leader overnight. Give yourself time and space to make mistakes and learn new skills.

🔸 Ask for mentoring and coaching from more experienced leaders in your company or anywhere else, for that matter.

🔸 Insist on getting leadership training. There are options for almost every schedule and every budget.

🔸 And lastly, there is no shame in accepting that a leadership position is not what you want and what makes you happy and excited every morning. After all, every company needs much more star performers than leaders.


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