Congratulations! Whether you get a promotion within your company, or are moving into a leadership role at a different company – leadership skills are sometimes less instinctual than you would think. It is important when you first start a leadership role that you understand the differences between what your role was and what it is now. So we are going to give you 5 helpful tips for transitioning into a leadership position to make the ride as smooth as possible.

1. Understand your strength and weaknesses

When starting a leadership role, it is important to understand where your personal strengths and weaknesses lie. Many leaders don’t bother with this step, and eventually make working for them unbearable for a variety of reasons. Some people are great at communicating their wants and expectations, others are not. Some people need to micromanage to feel like they’re doing their job. While others might place a lot of trust in the team and leave them be. Going into your new role knowing where your strengths lie will make the transition easier. In starting your new role, you can fall back on these strengths and identify the areas that you need to work on for future success.

Now that you’re in a position of leadership, areas where you lack natural skill will be highlighted in a way that it wasn’t highlighted in the past. Are you a person who lacks punctuality? If you keep this up, notice how quickly your team follows suit for meetings and deadlines. Are you bad at confrontation and disciplining others? At some point in this new role, you will need to have difficult conversations with your employees. The reasons will vary, and unfortunately you won’t be able to put it off forever. The best thing to do is identify your problems and proactively work on them so it doesn’t impact you and your team’s success.

2. Brush up on your soft skills

The term ‘soft skills’ encompasses the non-technical skills that relate to how you work. To be a good leader you will need to make sure you’re constantly working on your soft skills. Soft skills include; interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, public speaking, creative thinking, conflict resolution and more. Skills like these are seen as desirable assets by employers. Almost every job requires employees to engage with one another at some point. Having high-proficiency in soft skills is also useful as they are transferable across all jobs and career paths.

If you’re uncomfortable in conflict, get some extra training on how to navigate conflict and have uncomfortable conversations. This will serve you well. If public speaking scares you, practice with friends or family before doing it in front of your employees. You’ll find that improving your soft skills will make working easier and more efficient. It can also help in other aspects of your life.

3. Prepare for a bit of awkwardness at the beginning

Whether you are moving into a leadership role at your current workplace or a new one, expect some level of awkwardness at the beginning – but it’s ok, this goes away quickly! If your promotion is at your current workplace, expect it to feel weird being the boss of your old colleagues. Some of your colleagues may have also been up for this promotion and missed out. They may harbour some resentment about it. The best thing to do in this situation is address the awkwardness head-on and talk to your team about it. You are still the same person but now you are also their boss. This means that the dynamics around the workplace will be different.

If you are starting at a new workplace, do your best to meet everyone in your team and get to know them. This will build a sense of trust and rapport between you and your employees. The benefits of this will be great in the long-run. You may also need their help from time to time with different workplace procedures, so stay humble!

4. Support your employees, don’t boss them around

No one enjoys being micro-managing, including your employees. You need to restrain yourself, especially if you’re an expert on doing what needs to be done. As a leader however, it is your job to make sure your employees learn, grow and thrive. Don’t push them aside and take over their role to do it the ‘right way’. Allow your employees to learn by making mistakes and learning how to fix them. If you see an employee struggling with a task, ask them if they would like any help. Never assume that they want your help without asking, because this can quickly become overbearing and annoying. Your job is to support them, not to do their job.

5. Celebrate the success of your team

A leader’s success is strongly determined by their team’s success. Don’t take credit for all the wins personally, give credit where credit is due. If an employee has been performing well, celebrate them publicly so others see you acknowledging their success. People feel more connected and motivated by a workplace where they feel appreciated and seen for their hard work. This also demonstrates what you define as exceptional performance, which will help others to model their behaviour based on this. Celebrating employees doesn’t have to be a pizza party situation, but can simply be a public announcement or small gift. Rewarding people for good performance will improve workplace culture, team performance, and will make people feel good!