Susanne is a mid-level executive who successfully worked in the same position for several years. She realized at some point that she was “too comfortable” and began looking for another job. Her goal was to find a position that would capitalize on her strengths while providing new learning opportunities.
Several months into her search, Susanne found the ideal position. Not only did it entail a promotion – it also included responsibilities that would challenge her with new things to learn. Unfortunately, she experienced rocky beginnings because she didn’t adapt quickly to what was needed for her to be successful in her new job. She continued to do what she’d always done without considering that the new job was asking her to go beyond what had worked for her in the past.
Whether change comes as a result of something you’ve initiated (a career change) or something that has happened in your environment (a reorganization), awareness of the context of the change and the ability to adapt your leadership is key to your success. When you sense that a change is asking something more of you, ask yourself:
What do I need to learn? Think of a change as a leadership skills learning opportunity. Consider what you are doing well and what you are struggling with. What are the leadership gaps that you need to close due to this change? Make a list of the things you’ll need to learn and consider some first steps you can take.
What relationships do I need to pay attention to? Even if you the change happened within your existing company, you may need to lead within a culture that is different than you’ve been used to, or with people that may or may not be those you would have chosen to work with. Who are your key stakeholders? How will you connect with them? These are important questions to ask, and you may be surprised that those who are most important to your success may not be as obvious as they seem.
Who can help you? There are people who’ve walked in your shoes. You don’t need to figure these things out by yourself (and in fact, that might be dangerous). Who can help? Look around at colleagues, a mentor, your manager, a coach or others who might be able to help you synthesize the changes you need to make to adapt to the new situation. Talking it through with a confidante is a great way to get clarity. Find someone who is willing to assist you with your thinking as you work through how to adapt.
Leading as you always have may not serve you when things change. When you find out what the change you is asking of your leadership, you’ll discover great opportunities for growth and development.