Assessing Leadership Competencies
You’ve been promoted to leader at the blink of an eye. Now what? You feel like a fish out of water as this was not what you anticipated. Leadership promotions happen for all sorts of reasons. It is now your job and you must adjust at lightening speed to your new role. This isn’t an easy task but there is help out there.
You have been chosen for the promotion because someone felt you were leadership material.
The first step is to accept that fact and be proud that someone saw your potential. If your confidence is lacking, it will be seen by your direct reports so it is imperative that you find ways to boost your confidence.
Let’s start by assessing your leadership abilities.
Competencies define what skills and knowledge are required to do the job. Human Resources professionals use competencies to help define job descriptions, recruit and promote staff and define training needs.
For example, Leadership as a competency can be defined as the process of managing, coaching and influencing others to help them achieve desired outcomes.
Leadership is further defined as being able to: see the big picture, identify individual and team motivators, listen objectively and empathetically, stay organized and manage projects, identify strengths of the team and delegate accordingly, monitor progress towards pre-defined goals and objectives, be humble and give credit, model behavioural excellence, have a clear articulated vision inline with the company’s strategic plans and be results driven.
A leadership competency assessment can help you determine your areas of weakness.
One caution, be honest. Assessments require you to rate yourself through an honest evaluation of your current level of competence.
To increase validity, many companies are now looking at 360 degree feedback assessments to include feedback from peers, direct reports, clients/customers, supervisors and so on to gather a complete picture from everyone you work with.
Check with your HR representative to see if they have purchased leadership assessments.
Below, we’ll look at how to take your assessment results and use training, mentoring and learning from mistakes to turn weaknesses into strengths.
Training, Mentors and Mistakes
Build your leadership competencies through various leadership training options, building a relationship with a mentor and learning from your early mistakes.
Above, we discussed why you were promoted to a leadership role and how you can access your leadership competencies. Once you have identified the areas that need work from assessments on leadership competencies, it is time to research training options, look at mentoring and avoid the common early mistakes as a new leader.
Start by contacting your Human Resources department. Are there in-house training opportunities you can access? Does your company’s benefit package offer professional development funds?
If so, ask your HR representative what it types of training are eligible. You may be eligible for funding to take a leadership training course (classroom or online), buy books or magazine subscriptions on leadership or hire a coach.
The key is to find someone that is well respected for their leadership ability. Ask if you can take them out for lunch or coffee to talk to them about their leadership success.
Having an advisor to coach you along as you adjust to your new role and beyond provides validation on the solutions you’ve come up with as well as a fresh perspective on your problems.
Qualities to look for in a mentor:
- Respected in their company and industry
- Many years of experience
- Strong in areas that you are weak in
- Positive attitude
- Believes in helping the less experienced
Your mentor will be able to help you wade through your first mistakes.
Three common early mistakes are:
- rushing in with input or change demands before you have a full grasp of the situation,
- micromanaging by controlling the process instead of delegating to achieve an outcome and
- being insensitive to the change in dynamics within the team.
If you rush in without taking the time to learn the lay of the land, you’ll be making decisions while on a learning curve. It is imperative that you become a sponge and ask many questions and create open dialogues with your staff and their internal clients.
Take the time up front to build valuable relationships and show your respect for those who have worked in and around your department.
Delegating is imperative to not only empower your team but to make your job manageable. Assess your team’s talents and your workload and see what can be parcelled out.
Allow your staff to make smart mistakes i.e. mistakes that were not due to lack of planning or homework. Smart mistakes are about unforeseen hiccups that can not be anticipated.
Encourage having a plan B and running through all possible scenarios ahead of time to make sure they are taking calculated risks. There is no teacher like a mistake!
Remember that there are many ways to Rome and as long as the outcome is what you asked for and they haven’t been unethical in getting there – great!
When a new leader comes on board it is not always easy on the existing team. They must adjust to the new captain of the ship. Allow them time to adjust to the change and seek their input by empathetic dialogue as much as possible.
Of course, if someone is a negative Nelly and is bringing down the team to the point where performance is being impacted – time for some tough coaching. Speak to your HR representative if performance coaching is new to you.
Leading a team to a victory is a very satisfying achievement for all concerned.
Honing your leadership competencies will help you feel more confident and gain the skills to inspire and motivate your team.
Good luck in your new role!