27 September 2023

Secrets of success in a new role

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May Busch* says getting a work promotion should be an exciting time in anyone’s career — but one that needs careful preparation and support.

Congratulations if you’re in a new and bigger role or about to transition into one.

Taking on a new role is an exciting time.

This is your opportunity to make a greater impact and contribution to your organisation.

However, there will also be many challenges — the most difficult of which is showing up as a leader at the next level.

As they say, what got you here won’t get you there, and what worked in your previous role might no longer work in your new role.

You need to show you can step up and lead at an advanced level to meet the more complex challenges, demands and politics you will now face.

Your success is far too important to leave to chance, and you won’t want to risk your hard-won reputation by relying on trial and error.

The single most important thing you can do to succeed in your new role is to put together or join a ‘brains trust’.

This is a group of people who you can trust to help you navigate your path so you can succeed in your new role and be seen as a next-level leader.

With the support of your brains trust, you will find it easier to make an outstanding success of your new responsibilities while maintaining your sanity and wellbeing.

The benefits of being a part of a brains trust are tangible and they come in three areas: Confidence, clarity, and courage.

All three are essential for success in your new role.

Confidence to get you beyond your imposter syndrome; to reach out to senior stakeholders and to advocate for what you and your teams want and need.

Clarity on how to set your vision and strategy and on how to get your new boss onside when the old boss left during the transition.

Courage to confront a former peer who was undermining you and get them to change their behaviour.

You may already have people who are in your corner, like mentors, sponsors and even family and friends who have helped you get where you are now.

They are incredibly valuable and you’ll want to keep them in your inner circle, but they form only part of the picture because they have limitations.

To complete your circle of support for your new role, you need a group of people with specific qualities that most of your inner circle won’t have.

Whether you put together your own brains trust or have the chance to join one, it’s essential that the group includes people who collectively provide these three qualities.

Relevant experience

There are two kinds of relevant experience.

The first is someone who has been at those next higher levels you aspire to and knows what happens ‘behind closed doors’.

The second is people who have gone through or are going through similar challenges to the ones you’re facing in your new role, such as having been recently promoted.

Impartial advice

People who can be unbiased when they are listening to your situation and provide advice and counsel.

People who have a clean slate because they don’t have a stake in your future and aren’t burdened by knowing too much about you or your situation.

This allows them to ask the naïve questions that make you think, and provide input from a balanced perspective.

Keeping things confidential

In a new and bigger role, you need people you can confide in without the risk of letting things slip, even if accidentally.

With more complex challenges, issues and politics coming at the next level, you can’t afford to risk your reputation and standing by confiding in the wrong person.

Given these three qualities, a key in forming your brains trust is to look beyond the people inside your organisation.

Think of them as a complement to the people who know you and your workplace well.

Just as organisations have an internal legal function, they also have external lawyers on retainer.

Both serve an important purpose.

While you can find people with relevant experience internally, you may find it hard to get their time and attention when you need it.

It’s even harder to ensure you’ll receive truly impartial advice and be able to share your challenges confidentially without possible repercussions on your career.

Despite their best intentions, people within your organisation likely have their own perspective and their own lens on your career and work matters.

Like the well-meaning peer who advised me not to take an overseas role that ended up being the best move of my career.

Even if they don’t share your conversation with anyone else, what they’ve heard can colour the way they perceive you in the future.

For example, the teammate you commiserate with about your horrible boss, only to find yourself reporting to that former peer who now thinks of you as a potential troublemaker.

So how about you — who’s in your brains trust? Who do you want to add to it?

*May Busch works with smart entrepreneurs and top managements to build their businesses. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at maybusch.com.

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