I’m often asked the question of how to transition from a high performer (subject matter expert) into a leadership role? Often the first things that come to mind are, build a diverse team, balance the time you put into work with time outside of work and select a good mentor. All sounds simple right, after all you got the job because you’re good at what you do? But like strategy itself, the challenge is more in the execution!

Here are some key themes that any new entrant to the leadership table should consider:

Deliver results with others

As a leader it’s your job to achieve the outcomes not to do the work. Be clear about your expectations and provide regular feedback to individuals and the team. Research show team members wish for more effective feedback, while it’s the very thing that managers fear most!

You might not have heard of the phrase ‘servant’ or ‘Level 5′ leadership, but you’ll certainly know what I mean when I say the most effective leaders are very good at crediting all of those who play a part in success (and make sure the individual/s knows why).


Support your team to be the best they possibly can by providing the right tools, resources and support. You employed them for a reason, so assuming you trust your recruitment process, why shouldn’t you trust they’ll do their job? A change in management can often bring unease, so don’t be too quick to make changes – observe, think and ask questions.

Take action and accept responsibility

If your team are not performing, the first place Senior Management or the Executive will look is at you. Own this, make decisions and accept responsibility (even when not going well). If you’ve just moved into the team, keep in mind you don’t get any brownie points for stating that any garbage you’ve inherited is why you’re there, and not because of your own performance.

What you say, and then do, matters!

As a leader, you are always a role model – regardless of whether you’re role modeling the right behaviors or not! Those around you are always watching, listening and will take meaning from what you do and say.

You and your team are the representatives of the organisation. Don’t blame or undermine other parts of the organisation in front of your team (or the customer!). You’re a leader. Act like one.

Treat others with fairness and respect

You need a loyal team to really achieve and deliver. Loyalty is achieved through treating others with consistency, fairness and respect. Work hard to treat your entire team the same way and by all costs avoid favoritism. Always remember to use common courtesy by remembering peoples names, inquire about their ideas and activities, don’t betray anyone’s confidence (unless what they are telling you is illegal!) and take a genuine interest in their lives – not everyone is the same but they all need to be treated fairly.

You have shown talent to get into this leadership role, so go and share the talent to inspire and grow great teams and leaders behind you. Someone said to me the other day that the core role of a leader is to create more leaders. If you keep this in mind you’ll be on the right track to inspiring performance in those around you, and possibly even yourself!

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