by Michael Holland    

About four months into their new role, young leaders struggle as they hit their tipping point with the realization that they have all this “management stuff” to do and they still have “real” work to do.  They are executing the same behaviors and habits learned from years as an individual contributor and expecting different results.  Mature leaders find themselves in the same situation when they’re suddenly offered the opportunity to take on a special project or small functional team.

How is it that some leaders know how to roll with the change in work load?

Our counsel to leaders . . . do one thing each day in the new role or new situation.  A small task, an additional conversation, a follow up phone call, a walk to say hello, start work 7 minutes earlier.  Just do one thing every day, 5 days a week for 250 work days in the next year.  Just do one thing and your water dripping focus will not only reduce the size of the boulders you feel piled upon you but also will eventually create the behaviors that need to be adjusted for the new role.

One of the most enriching experiences we get to see a couple of times a year is watching a young leader working through our Building New & Maturing Leader management training program get the “oh wow” impact when they see the light regarding what their role really entails.  Sometime it comes during one of the training sessions, other times during one of their individual coaching sessions.  In all cases, they see the role with more clarity and how they can do even minor things just a little differently to get different results.

It’s this break point you are searching for regarding your own behaviors as a leader.  Do one thing a day in your new role wearing that special new role hat.  Persevere day after day; seek the clearing of the fog and smile as you achieve your own “oh wow” experience.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What are some of the things you know you need to do, but feel that you don’t have the time or resources for? How can you break these down according to this “do one thing each day” philosophy?
  • Re-read the first paragraph. Why do you think the phrases “management stuff” and “real work” are set apart by quotation marks? Is the “real work” more important than the “management stuff”? Or are the tasks of a manager just as valid as the work done by their employees?