Many executives fall into the trap of continuing to do what they have always done. Starting anew means we have the chance to create new neural pathways by thinking, behaving, and speaking differently. Clients often ask me what they can do so they can be successful as possible in a new role. Here are seven tips:
- Claim your seat at the adult table. Make peace with your well-being and success, honestly and humbly. You don’t have to barge in. Nor do you need to disappear. Accept your strengths and let them shine. Reach out to others around the table and look for ways to build trusting, collaborative relationships. You have worked for this and it is yours.
- First things first. First things first. Clarify the few priorities that will really make a difference and create value. Do this by understanding the cultural norms, discovering where the real power lies, making strategic observations, and learning where political landmines are buried. Go in eyes wide open. Understand what is being said and what is being left unsaid; such insight will help you to know what really needs your focus.
- Embrace the power of SWALPU (Small Wins And Lifting People Up). Find ways to add value by connecting with others while addressing a few small things that could have a positive ripple effect without requiring a committee’s approval. Look for ways to understand what people are struggling with and brainstorm solutions. Empower the talent around you to carry on and teach you. Remember: rising water lifts all boats. Be that rising water.
- Listen Deeply. Stop talking and practice WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). There is no need to prove how smart you are. You do not have to change things immediately. Hit the pause button. Be fully present and mindful as you listen to others so you can truly learn where you best need to put the crowbar and how to go about doing that. Focus on deepening connections because when you make your strategic moves to address the big things it is more likely that you can garner the support you need from some key stakeholders.
- Partner and Communicate. Spend time asking your peers and boss what they need from you for them to be more successful. Establish yourself as a team player who values the power of curiosity, empathy, and direct communication. Keep away from gossip: stay in your lane and mind your business. Ask for feedback and let people know you are open to their input. Communicate with your boss often telling him/her what you are learning and what you are focusing on. Let your team know you value them and spend intentional time with them; participate in a strategic leadership assimilation process so you can best lead your team and they know how to partner with you.
- Lean into your tribe. Stepping into a new role is stressful. Check in with your ride-or-die companions often: those who have your back, advisors who call your bullshit, and people who know what is possible for you when you are in your flow. Turn to these folks when you need to be honest, are feeling scared, or need a good-old-fashioned pep talk.
- Nourish Your Energy. Find ways to replenish yourself throughout the day, every day. Have a mindful morning routine. Take mini-breaks throughout the day. Do things that renew your mind, heart, body, and spirit. Have a relaxing ritual in the evening. Devote your precious time to the people and things that nourish you; identify and avoid energy vampires of all kinds.
Each time we enter a new chapter we create a new map, compass, and guideposts. There is no “plug and play” travel guide: no failproof steps to follow. As we grow in our careers and lives, enhancing self-awareness must be our go-to and we enhance it by a combination of self-reflection, acceptance, and letting trusted others give us feedback. Self-awareness is fuel; it helps us to breakthrough a scarcity-and-fear-based-mindset so we can move into an abundance-and-growth-mindset. Digging deep and letting new experiences transform us is the sanest way to expand our capacity and make the most of new possibilities.