Six Insights about Leading a Team

By Lain Chroust Ehmann

The irony of management is this: In order to be a great manager, it’s not enough that you were a great salesperson. You need a different set of competencies to meet the challenges of your new role, says Dave A. Jennings, president of Business Acumen, Inc. In order to become as great at leading a team as you were at selling, you might have to make your way up a steep learning curve. Use these tips to ease the growing pains.

1. Identify your new role. “A leader’s real job is not to do the day-to-day work, it’s to help others be successful doing the work,” reminds Jennings. Though you might be tempted to jump in and solve problems for your salespeople, restrain yourself. “Instead of getting rewarded for solving problems, leaders get rewarded for others solving problems,” explains Jennings.

2. Let go of your old job. Chances are you were promoted to a managerial role because of your success as a salesperson. Now, though, you must move from being the expert to helping others develop their own expertise and competencies.

3. Accept doubt. One of the biggest challenges in leadership is accepting that you don’t know what you’re doing – and that’s okay, says Jennings. “We don’t hire leaders who know what to do. We hire leaders who can figure out what to do,” he says. Remind yourself that most, if not all, leaders at every level are constantly facing new tests of their abilities. “We’re all figuring it out,” Jennings says.

4. Create a support system. If you have mentors and colleagues with whom to share your problems and concerns, you’ll feel more confident in your own abilities.

5. Develop a vision of the future. When times are tough, remind yourself why you took the management job and what you hope to accomplish. “If we know where we are going, everything else is doable,” says Jennings.

6. Give yourself time. “You don’t become a leader overnight,” Jennings says. “You become a leader by getting leadership opportunities.” Remind yourself that each challenge you face is one more step toward becoming the kind of leader you want to be. <!–

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