Many leaders I meet have mixed feelings when they get to the top. Initially they feel excited, energized and confident about the challenges ahead. However, within weeks or months they end up feeling isolated, lonely and anxious in their new role. These feelings are sometimes compounded by what psychologists call the “imposter syndrome” which arises when people experience self-doubt and feelings of not being up to the demands of the job.
Leaders need to acknowledge and tackle these feelings before they undermine their effectiveness, but many don’t know where to start. Here are 4 steps leaders can take to combat doubts and fears arising from a move into a more senior role.
- Talk about it
The biggest mistake leaders make is to think they’re the only ones who feel self-doubt or that it is associated with a flawed or weak character. This causes leaders to clam up and keep it a secret, hoping it will go away. However, openly discussing these feelings with others is the first step in combatting its effects on you and winning back control over these negative emotions. Although it is typically unwise to generalize behaviours across genders, my experience suggests that men are often less likely to open up easily about feelings they associate with weakness or vulnerability as this runs contrary to the “tough guy” mental model they’ve learned during their formative years.
- Build support
The most effective leaders seek out assistance from a coach, mentor, trusted colleague and/or family member they can open up and be honest with. A good development partner will listen and provide non-judgemental support and advice, enabling you to boost your inner voice of possibility and silence your voices of self-doubt and criticism. It makes sense to have several of these champions and partners as they often play different and complementary roles and can contribute different insights and skills to help you.
- Involve your team
One of the biggest pitfalls of leaders is to try to do everything themselves and to overlook the talents and ideas of their team and broader workforce. Many leaders become highly controlling and rarely delegate genuine responsibility to others. This overstretches them and results in heightened anxiety and self-doubt, creating a vicious spiral of declining mental capacity, wellbeing and confidence.
While leaders can often get away with using an autocratic style for a while, it is a poor choice to deal with most of today’s complex challenges as these benefit from open, honest conversations and participative problem-solving involving the full range of team members’ skills, ideas and experience.
- Build positive beliefs
The words that you use and beliefs you hold will influence the way you view the world and how you choose to interact with it. So, the more positive your beliefs and internal narrative, the more likely it is you will interact with people and problems more positively.
To build a more positive mindset, it is crucial you leverage your strengths, values and goals, as well as deliberately seeking out and highlighting what’s working well in your company and team.
By leveraging and accentuating these positive, enabling forces, you will be able to combat and silence some of the ‘gaps’ and negative forces, providing you with a greater sense of control and confidence over your environment. However, it is important to remember that there is no quick fix. By remaining focused and patient, you will begin to see the smaller changes snowball into bigger achievements and your feelings of confidence and strength will grow.
TalentPredix offers leadership transition and onboarding coaching solutions to help newly appointed executives adjust to the new role and responsibilities quickly so they can ramp up productivity and achieve excellent results. Contact us for more at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.