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  • Andrew Burke

Stepping Up: The Challenges New Leaders Face and the Importance of Positive Leadership

As new leaders ascend the ranks and take on their first management roles, they often face many challenges. This transition can be daunting, and their leadership journey can be fraught with difficulties without the right mindset and approach. In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by new leaders, emphasising the importance of adopting a positive leadership approach that combines authentic, transformational, and servant leadership styles. Furthermore, we will delve into the necessity of critical thinking skills in challenging the status quo, managing biases, and avoiding groupthink.

"Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge." - Simon Sinek

The initial challenges faced by new leaders are varied: managing teams, setting direction, and fostering a positive working environment, to name a few. But perhaps the most significant challenge lies in developing their own leadership style. New leaders must learn to be authentic – true to their values and beliefs, while also being flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing business landscape.

Adopting a transformational leadership style allows new leaders to inspire and motivate their teams to achieve greater heights. By focusing on growth and innovation, they can facilitate positive change throughout their organisation. As the famous leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, once said:

"The true measure of leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less."

Servant leadership is another essential aspect of positive leadership. This approach emphasises the importance of leaders putting their team members' needs first, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. This style of leadership not only boosts morale but also encourages a more engaged and productive workforce.

"Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don't work for you; you work for them." - Ken Blanchard

In addition to adopting a positive leadership approach, new leaders must also become critical thinkers. By learning to question the status quo, they can identify biases and avoid falling into the trap of groupthink. This empowers them to make better decisions and fosters an environment where innovation thrives.

"Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe." - Edward de Bono

However, developing these leadership qualities and critical thinking skills does not happen overnight. It requires time, effort, and the proper support. Organisations must invest in coaching and training for their new leaders to ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools to navigate the challenges ahead - there will be many!

It is risky for an organisation to neglect the need to provide effective leadership training, coaching, and mentoring for those new to leadership roles. Assuming that a step up in title change equips an individual with the skills to lead is a dangerous misconception. Leadership is not an innate ability that comes automatically with a promotion or new title; it is a complex set of skills that must be learned, honed, and practiced.

Failure to invest in the growth and development of new leaders can have far-reaching consequences for any organisation. A lack of proper training and guidance can lead to disengaged employees, higher turnover rates, and a decrease in overall productivity. Moreover, it can foster a toxic work environment, as poorly trained leaders may struggle to manage their teams effectively, causing frustration and dissatisfaction.

"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." - Warren Bennis

Organisations must recognise that leadership development is not a luxury but a absolute necessity. By providing new leaders with the proper training, coaching, and mentoring, they pave the way for a more engaged, motivated, and innovative workforce. In turn, this investment in leadership development translates into long-term success and growth for the organisation as a whole.

Don't leave your new leaders to struggle on their own. Invest in their growth and development by providing them with coaching support and training in positive leadership and critical thinking. By doing so, you not only set them up for success but also contribute to the overall success of your organisation.

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