Confident Leaders: How to Impress as a Leader - Ensuring Stakeholder Confidence
The Executive Summary:
Embracing your new leadership role requires understanding and managing the expectations of key stakeholders.
Adopting an 'owner' mentality, treating your leaders and managers as clients, is a powerful approach in fostering responsibility and initiative.
Actively engaging in conversations about expectations and desired outcomes helps avoid misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
The Liberating Leadership Programme supports new leaders, helping them cultivate productive relationships and ensuring their success in meeting the demands of leadership.
Q: I've recently been promoted to a leadership role. How can I start off on the right foot in this new role, particularly with those I'll be managing and the directors, so they all feel confident that I'm the right person for the job?
A: This is a great question and it demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence. By considering the impression you create and how you come across to others, you're already showing a willingness to adapt your behaviour to suit the situation.
There are numerous aspects to consider, but let's focus on Stakeholders and ownership.
Firstly, it's vital to be clear on who your 'clients' are, and what they expect of you in this new role. A useful perspective to adopt at work is to see yourself as self-employed, with your manager being your primary client.
As the 'owner' of your own business, your responsibilities include:
Winning work (this could be from external clients or internal projects)
Clarifying your clients' expectations and identifying the resources needed to meet these
Organising and managing your work to ensure these expectations are met
Keeping clients informed by communicating progress, problems, and successes
Anticipating and addressing any issues with all stakeholders
Demonstrating the value you've added, to secure more work and potential opportunities for progress.
With this mindset, who is your specific client? Is it the Board, the Directors or one particular director? And do they have any additional expectations of you?
If you report to a specific director, as is often the case, initiate a conversation to clarify their expectations. Then, arrange meetings with the other directors and key stakeholders to understand how their roles may overlap with your areas of responsibility, and any expectations they might have of you.
Please note: People often don't realise they have expectations until they aren't met. Therefore, identifying these expectations in advance, as well as any expectations you have of them, is crucial.
The Stakeholder Map is a handy tool to assist you:
Plot out your stakeholders. Your aim is to understand who holds the most influence and who shows the most interest, so you can manage them accordingly. For instance, a highly interested individual may cause a quiet but influential person to suddenly take a lot of interest and even exert control if they feel the situation isn't being managed well. We want to avoid that by keeping the former informed and the latter satisfied.
Once you've mapped out your stakeholders, build relationships with them, preferably based on trust and understanding.
Starting with your main 'client', here are some effective questions to ask:
Are there any specific goals or projects you want me to lead? If yes, what are they and what are the timescales (start and finish)?
Are there any bigger, strategic goals you're working towards that I need to be aware of?
On a daily basis, what do you expect of me? For instance, how will I know I'm doing a good job? What activity or KPIs do you want me to report on, and how frequently?
What would it be useful for me to know about the new projects and people I'll be working with?
Keep in mind, these questions may be new to them and you might worry about coming off as pushy or needy. You're not. These are the type of questions professional consultants and coaches ask at the start of any engagement (or at least they should). It's also likely they'll communicate their own expectations around feedback, provision of resources, and knowledge.