new leadership roleYou have just been promoted and you are ready to get started. But where should you start to ensure you successfully transition to your new leadership role? It all seems so overwhelming. You know that everyone’s perception of you is going to be formed within your first few days in your new role. You know you are going to need to show results quickly to prove the promotion was well deserved. However, you also know it typically takes months or even a year to get your feet wet and truly understand the nuances of how things work. And you know that there is a high percentage of leaders who fail within 1 to 2 years in their new position. So, what to do?

First, take a look inward and assess your abilities to transition. We are all excited when we get promoted and want to be wildly successful in our new role.  So, let’s be real with ourselves and figure out where we stand prior to the transition to your new leadership role.

  • What are your current understandings about the business, the organization, the culture, the processes and the people – both within the organization and with your clients?
  • Which areas of the transition may not be comfortable for you?
  • Who can you trust to help you in this transition?
  • What do you need to know to get started?

To be successful, you need to also look outward.  And as you begin to get to know the organization, culture and people, be open-minded and don’t jump to conclusions. Ensure you understand the big picture from multiple points of view. Make friends and don’t alienate your potential supporters. With this open book approach, you’ll need to:

  • Get a true understanding of the business, the organization, the culture, the processes and the people
  • Build credibility by creating value and/or improving business results – but do this with an eye towards truly understanding the demands of the situation, which may be different than what worked for you previously
  • Establish a relationship with your boss, build your team – get the right people on the bus – and identify those outside your group who have influence within the organization to help you in this transition and beyond
  • Get your new team on the same page, all marching to the same drum
  • And, at all times, keep in mind that you need to find your replacement since the best way to get promoted to the next role is to have a sound succession plan in place prior to the next transition

Making the transition to your new leadership role may seem daunting and there is a lot of stake. Stay focused and create a 30/60/90 day plan to ensure your success. And, remember, you are not in this alone. Ask those you trust for advice and listen without jumping to conclusions. To build your credibility quickly, remember to talk to multiple people to assess the situation, listen carefully and make decisions that could affect the success of your transition. If the outcome of your decision is good for the company, good for you, good for your employees, and good for your clients – then go for it and begin to make your mark.

Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter