Transitioning from Doer to Leader
Transitioning from doer to leader – get ready, it is really hard. As with most things in life, this one has a bit of comedy in it, most of the time, not always, leadership opportunities present themselves because you are “doing” a great job, then you start leading and find out, “leading” is not the same as “doing”. If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that I am personally committed to helping create 1,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. As I have been preparing myself to pursue this 10,000 Hour Goal, I learned a very important thing, “I don’t scale”. That’s right, I have a goal that is impossible to do alone, that is both scary and motivating. I am fully committed to the goal, which means I am fully committed to being a great leader.
I’ve blogged it before and it seems to resonate on Twitter anytime I speak or write, “real leaders are “not” superstars they create superstars”.
– Resist the urge to add more value. When an employee approaches you with a question or a problem, avoid jumping right in to provide an answer.
– Coach the person in front of you.
– Work on confidence first, and competence will follow. Empower your employees and build their confidence by asking probing questions that help them arrive at their own answers.
– Forget logistics and focus instead on hearts and minds. As a leader, your role is to present a compelling vision, think strategically about the future and gain buy-in from influencers and employees throughout the organization.
– Allow people to move fully into their roles. If you’re making the transition from a doer to a leader, it can be difficult to let go of your past duties – especially the ones you like.
These are an interesting set of principles to follow. I certainly agree with most of them; however I would suggest focusing on a few more measurable tasks in addition to these broad principles. First and foremost, “remove “I” from your vocabulary”. Seriously, stop saying I, stop starting sentences with “I think”, “I did”, “I would”. Sorry Mr. Leader, but “you don’t matter anymore”. The only thing that matters is how “you” help “someone else succeed”. As you make the transition from doer to leader never “work alone”. That’s right, no more sitting at your computer deep in thought. If you are working on something, who are you working with? If you follow these above “5 Principles”, “Stop Saying I”, and “Never Work Alone”, you will be shocked how quickly you find yourself in the leadership deep-end of the pool. Change is always hard, you will no longer find fulfillment in that completed task, that pat on the back, but I promise seeing someone else excel is so much better – and if you don’t think so – you are not a leader – go back to doing!
Closing thought: Doers, Managers, and Leaders – they are all part of a successful system – one isn’t better than another – just different.