Getting a promotion as a people leader is a celebratory moment in someone’s career. After the excitement of the initial weeks after being promoted, they face greater scrutiny and visibility. They also have to make difficult decisions. The new rules of engagement require fortitude and self-assurance, especially in the fast-paced and complex workplace.
The failure rate for new leaders is as high as 50%, in part for the inability to make a successful transition. Having left behind a solid reputation as subject matter experts, new leaders find themselves in uncharted waters filling anxious and fearful of failure. For many professionals, this is when the Imposter Syndrome kicks in, raising self-doubts that compromise their confidence.
Imposter Syndrome is a way of thinking that downplays our skills and make us feel a fraud, taking us to focusing on our shortcomings, instead of having a balanced assessment of our capabilities. This is dangerous territory that can lead to a downward spiral of limiting beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, compromising our ability to raise to the challenges. This article describes six consequences of losing confidence and how to overcome them before they become derailers.
1) Constantly Seeking Advice
Being afraid of being wrong can take a new leader to asking too many questions and constantly seeking support from superiors and peers. Sustaining this behavior beyond the onboarding stage can be detrimental because others start wondering about the person’s ability to use independent judgment or to take risks.
Be aware of any areas of insecurity and create an onboarding plan to tackle the information gaps. Reviewing your job description is a good starting place, listing gap areas and how to close them. Are there any areas where you can find your own answers? Do you need tools, training, role clarity? Some organizations have buddy systems to ease the onboarding process and provide additional support to the new leader outside of the chain of command. Realize that you know more than what you think but you don’t have to do it alone either. Build a support system to lean in when needed -and not all the time-. Be willing to rely on your own judgement to stay grounded in confidence instead of self-doubts.
2) Reluctance to Making Decisions
Making decisions is part of the leader’s job description yet many leaders avoid making them. Assumptions and beliefs get in the way of a leader in making timely decisions such as fear of making mistakes. Reframing from taking stand on serious and controversial issues might undermine a recently promoted leader’s reputation. A tendency toward analysis paralysis might freeze a new leader from making timely decisions without realizing that procrastinating make things worst.
On occasion, you will face the challenge of making decisions over ambiguous matters. You grow when you are outside of your comfort zone. Take the time to define the problem carefully considering the context. The best approach includes a combination of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgement. When in doubt, take action, even if you have to correct the course. Start small with low-risk decisions and practice the muscle of putting yourself out there with conviction.
3) Feeling like One of the Gang
One of the challenges new leaders’ faces is managing former peers, and understanding and accepting that the nature of the relationship has changed. Developing a new identity as a leader is a process that takes time and requires distancing from former colleagues. The new leader must strike the right balance between being close enough to influence and far enough to lead.
Realize that your relationships with your direct reports have changed. No matter how much you like them, you are the manager now and not their pal anymore. Be willing to let go of the attachment to those relationships and learn to see them from another view. You can still trust and support them as a manager, not as a friend.
4) Failure to Setting Expectations
Leading a team requires clarifying roles, responsibilities, standards, and rules of engagement. Failure to communicate expectations leads to a lack of direction, creating confusion and underperformance.
Foster an open dialogue and clearly assign responsibilities for tasks and decisions ensuring team members know who is responsible for what. Set clear objectives and measures. Monitor and provide work in progress feedback.
5) Letting Others Have Their Way
Avoiding conflict is typical behavior in the workplace, and new leaders might shy away from rocking the boat, especially when they are still trying to figure out how to lead. A lack of accountability erodes the team morale. Most mid-managers operate between senior managers and their teams. They cascade mandates that are sometimes unpopular. The new leader must take stands with conviction, including managing through change and addressing the ones functioning below the standards.
Holding people accountable is a very important component in your success as a leader. This means to clearly communicating expectations, roles, and responsibilities. Most leaders believe they have done enough to cascade guidelines and expectations to their teams but, they probably have not done enough to communicate key messages consistently and frequently enough to build a shared understanding. Have the courage to let your team members know where they stand by providing current, direct, complete, and actionable positive and constructive feedback.
6) Not Taking Initiative
Imposter Syndrome can have a negative impact in the way a new leader operates. If he/she don’t feel like they deserve to be there, they won’t speak up or go above and beyond of the required bare minimum. Not taking the initiative hinders the leader’s ability to have a positive impact and sends the wrong message to the team and the organization.
Initiative is an essential leadership capability. In your new role, you cannot afford to wait for someone to tell you what to do. You must think on your feet and take appropriate action assessing the risks and setting the agenda to keep your team moving forward.
Fulfilling your potential requires you step out of your comfort zone. Start celebrating your success story because you deserve to be where you are. Claiming your power is about not letting self-doubts to mute you. Take control and decide to overcome assumptions or beliefs that erode your confidence. Put your Imposter Syndrome in your rear mirror and trust yourself more driving your career forward. You have what it takes.