When you move to a more challenging leadership job you may be impatient to get started, to immerse yourself in the role, and to start delivering results.  However it is worth taking time out to challenge yourself with some ‘killer’ questions. Here are some suggestions:

1.  What from my previous role or organisation do I need to let go?
A client of mine who had moved to a more senior role once said to me “Nearly everything that got me here is now no longer needed at this level“  Our coaching focused on helping her let go of some of the technical skills of which she was justly proud in order to make room to develop new skills, new ways of working and new relationships.  Only then could she step up and become a true leader.  So what are you are clinging to that you need to leave behind?

2.  Which parts of my new role am I most comfortable with, and which parts do I find most daunting?
Are you spending too much time on the former and avoiding the latter?  Or are you obsessing about the most challenging aspects of the job and overlooking your  strengths?  Do you need to re-focus your thinking or your effort?

3.  Where can I schedule some space to give myself time to think and plan?
When you are new to a role you will have a lot to learn but you will also have a fresh perspective and new ideas. You may be tempted to rush ahead and ‘make your mark’ but  taking time out to process what you are noticing and then work out what needs to change will pay dividends later on.  So how can you allocate some time to think?  Where can you find just one hour a week to step back and reflect?

4.   Who will support me as I make sense of my new role and environment?  
Leadership can be a lonely business.  High achievers can compound this when they take on a new role by trying to solve every problem themselves.  Asking for help is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness.  But the best leaders acknowledge their weaknesses and seek out trusted advisors to support and challenge them.  So who could your supporters be?  Can you find a senior mentor who will guide you through the politics?  Can a colleague give you honest feedback about how you are coming across?  Would it help to have the objective support of a professional coach?

5.   Who am I in this new role?
Adjusting to a new and more challenging role can result in a crisis of confidence.  You may suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’, expecting any minute to be ‘found out’.  You might be surprised at the number of senior leaders who have suffered such self-doubts.  So what helps?  Understanding your key assets and your values will give you an inner strength which will sustain you through a tough transition.  What are the qualities, abilities and values that sit at your core?  What do you stand for?  What is important to you?  How will you refresh yourself from time to time – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

6.  How do I wish to present myself?  
Senior leadership roles bring greater visibility.  You will be watched – by your followers, by your peers and by top management.  So developing a clear leadership ‘brand’ -  an authentic if slightly edited version of the ‘real you,’ may help clarify how you wish to be perceived.  Start by writing down six key words or phrases that sum up how you want others to see you in this role.  Are these the first six words that others would use to describe you right now?  If not, what do you need to do differently to change their perceptions?

7.  What assumptions am I making about the organisation, the department, my team, or other key stakeholders?
People will not expect you to know everything about everything and everyone, so use this period of transition to get out and about and ask the seemingly stupid ‘Colombo’ questions.  Maintain a state of curiosity and suspend judgement as you challenge your own and others’ assumptions and prejudices.

8.  What do I want to achieve in this role?
Think about the outcomes you wish to achieve.  What do you want to have achieved in this role in say, the next two years?  What legacy do you wish to leave behind when you move on?  What do you want to see on your CV in two years time?  Once you have put some stakes in the ground and identified what you want to achieve, for yourself as well as for others, you can check in periodically and ask “Is what I am doing right now taking me towards or away from my goals?”

Leadership transitions are challenging but as we stretch ourselves, as we grow in confidence, as we achieve more than we thought possible, they can be exciting too.

I hope these questions will help you coach yourself through your next transition.  But if you would like some extra support to explore any of these questions then do contact me for a free informal consultation about coaching.  You can mail me at [email protected] or complete the enquiry form