New Position. New Power. Take It or Lose It.

Are you using all of the power that comes with the position you hold? In order to succeed in your new position, you must use the power that comes along with it, and right away. Otherwise, the power you have becomes the power that you “had.”

How to succeed in your new job

Positional Power Guarantees You Nothing

Every position comes with a certain amount of power, but it’s only yours if you use it. That’s where a lot of people fail. They approach the new role as though it’s business as usual. That’s a fatal mistake for anyone on the rise. You’ve reached a new level and you need to adjust to it quickly. You’ve got about 100 days, or just about 3 months, to show that you’ve got what it takes to lead. But how do you take your power?

All Eyes Are on You

Once you hit a certain level, all eyes are on you to see how you’ll handle the leadership – the power – that goes with your role. And it’s all done through relationships. How you establish or re-establish your power with your new peers, old peers, and the senior management who’s watching and evaluating you.

Let’s take an example of a promotion from manager to director level. You’ve recently been promoted into a role where instead of managing just one team of people, you’re now managing three teams. You’re responsible for the work of 25 people instead of the handful of direct reports you’d been managing for the last few years. You wanted this role. You knew you were ready for it. And you know how to manage. But that’s not enough to bring you success in this new position.

Manage Your Relationships

To assume your new power, you have to actively manage these 4 relationships: your old peer group, your old manager, your new peer group, and your new manager.

  1. Your old peer group — many of whom are now reporting to you. Of course, if you’re at the director level, this isn’t the first time you’ve had the challenge of managing people who were once your peers. The one thing to keep in mind, though, at this level is that you’re now privy to much higher-level information that you can’t pass on to them. And by explicitly letting them know that, you’re setting up new relationships. Again, it’s no longer business as usual. There will be some who might balk at this, who might be jealous that you got the job and they didn’t. Remain on the best terms with them, but on your terms, not theirs. As they see you sharing some, but not all, the information you’ve got, as they see you building relationships at your own new level, they’ll begin to get the picture that things have changed.
  2. Your old manager. You used to report to a director who’s now your peer — a long-standing relationship that needs to be reestablished on your new level. You need to be sure you stop deferring to him or her or going to her/him continuously for advice, and make decisions on your own. You’re equals. Act that way.
  3. Your new peer group. These are the people who, until you got promoted, were a level above you — your manager’s peers and friends. Now you’re one of them. That means you need to start mixing with them. Get to know them on a peer level. Have lunch with them. During the first 30 to 45 days, you can ask their advice about the work and the challenges for you at this level. But after that, you should be involving yourself in a more equal exchange — a give and take of advice, especially with those who are fairly new to the director role. But for those who’ve been at the director level for a longer time, you can court them as your mentors for a little longer than 45 days, but not much. You’re on the rise in your company now; you can’t be seen as “little me” asking for help for long. If you need continued help with the challenges of leading at this level, get in with a group of directors outside of your company either through an association or with a structured mastermind group. With a trusted group outside of your company, you can take the issues and challenges of the role to them for advice.
  4. Your new manager. One of the things your manager will be looking for, consciously or not, is how you manage your new and old relationships — are you hanging onto your old buddies at the lower level and not making any new friends in your peer group? Are you continuing to defer idea generation and decision making in meetings with your director-level peers long after you’ve taken on your new role? Are you using your new peers as a sounding board for your solutions to current problems or are you relying on your peers to solve problems for you? Keep in mind, your manager is looking at this and is forming opinions of you based on this.

As you rise, keep building the relationships in front of you and maintaining the changing relationships behind you. Be consistent with how you do this, and enjoy the ride.

Question: How have you taken your power in a new position? Or do you have a question or a tip? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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