“I’m not young enough to know everything”
This intriguing quote from Peter Pan author, J.M Barrie is one worth considering by recently promoted leaders and managers. They commonly feel a huge pressure to immediately demonstrate full knowledge of their new role and everything it entails, in order prove their worth.
When you’ve been selected for that job role you’ve worked so hard to achieve – why do you suddenly feel like you’re under the spotlight of perfection? Everyone watching and waiting for that moment of doubt which confirms that you don’t actually know everything…. Scary!
In response to that fear of being ‘found out’, the newly promoted might think it best to spend the first few days or even weeks of their job, locked away in their office reading endless reams of documentation. What early impression is this creating and where is the positive impact? They’re placing too much focus on all the wrong things.
As a newly promoted leader – how about getting up from the desk, stepping through the office door and engaging with the people around you? That’s where meaningful learning starts. Be visible! Embrace this perceived ‘lack of knowledge’ and take the opportunity to ask the ‘stupid’ questions. Discover your team’s challenges and what they need to make their jobs easier. And don’t forget to really listen to what they’re saying.
Not convinced? Well here are just some of the opportunities this early engagement creates:
- Early development of trust. Trust is hard to get back once it’s lost, so make it the first thing you look to do.
- Clear understanding your team’s culture or” how people do things”. You can then decide whether this culture is supportive of what you’re looking to achieve.
- Gaining knowledge fast from the people who know the company, team, and subject matter well – people love to talk about what they do and what they know. Use the opportunity!
- Identifying the real issues rather than just skimming the surface. By actively listening and understanding before drawing conclusions you can then start to prioritise and focus your efforts.
- Identifying where your key strengths may be best applied first. Don’t struggle in areas you’re not familiar with yet. Ask team members who already have the skills and knowledge to support here. You don’t have to do everything to be seen as effective!
- And if you stick at it there’s the added bonus of being able to identify the next generation of leaders. It’s never too early to start succession planning for your next promotion!
So don’t shy away from these opportunities. Hiding away might allow you to gather some of that missing knowledge and make you feel more like you ‘look the part’. But when you do decide to come out of the office, the only thing you’ve really achieved is to alienate your team.
Remember – you were selected for promotion not because you know everything but because you have the skills, experience and drive to make a difference. So be accepting of the skills and knowledge you DO have because you’re not young enough to know everything!