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Do Promotions Make Perfect?

Why won’t my new boss ask for help? He is obviously in over his head.” If you are like most employees, you’ve wondered about your newly promoted boss before.

Of course, she can’t yet know what she’s talking about in certain areas. But you understand those areas. You could help if only she talked to you before making some of her decisions, before it is too late.

Scary, eh? Would you believe most people feel they have to continually prove they deserve leadership? As much as we want and expect to be promoted, very few of us feel we deserve it. Instead, many leaders are plagued with doubt. Will I be able to perform? Will I choke on my own ambition?

And so we do the exact opposite of what would actually help us. We avoid asking questions, shun professional guidance, and take offense when offered advice. We act the new part with bravado, fearing any weakness or vulnerability could engender doubt about our competence.

In fact, secure professionals aren’t controlled by fear or doubt. They ask questions freely and benefit from the experience of others. They are publicly proud to be lifelong learners. Think about sports. What professional athlete succeeds without a cadre of coaches? (Pause to acknowledge moment of unashamed self-promotion.)

It’s difficult to relate to one’s subordinates–especially for someone who has just been promoted. Instead, we want to appear somehow more knowledgeable, competent, or more something in order to justify our title and salary.

This is a terrible approach to leadership even from someone who is better than everyone else in the office. Your team holds your greatest potential–if you’ve been leading for a long time or if you’re newly promoted. Your honest, thoughtful questions will be interpreted as signs of respect. They will increase motivation and loyalty.

When you receive a promotion, it always has a bigger effect on you than anyone else. You are adequate for the job! Have confidence and courage. Choose to view your team through a positive lens.

Learning is a good thing. I would say it’s a necessary core competency for leadership in these ever-changing times. The boss who flies solo is an isolated and dangerous handicap in this inter-connected world. And what’s the point? Competence is a team sport. So lead your team! Engage them, excite them, empower them! You are as effective as the breadth of resources you surround yourself with.

And, by the way, congratulations on the promotion.



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