Why levelling up is crucial to your career

April 20th, 2022

You wanted a leadership role because you love what you do, and you know deep down that you can do a good job as a leader.
However, you may have found that you are going to more meetings, including those with members of your team, so that you stay across everything and make sure the team is getting it right. You’re starting work earlier, finishing later, then working again after the family is in bed.  You’ve spent the weekend trying to catch up on the work you didn’t get done last week.
There is so much to do. There is a queue of people at your desk, or sending you instant messages, and asking you questions. It’s faster to give the answer than take the time to help them work it out for themselves.
It’s not your fault that you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of reacting, redoing, and responding. Quite simply, this is because people new to managing are not usually taught to how to level up. Now, in this state of overwhelm you are operating at a level too low. You are too immersed in the detail, which means you are pushing your team down and they will be operating at a level below where they should and can be.
Levelling up takes is a mindset shift and some improvement in your behavioural skills. Also called ‘soft’ or ‘people’ skills, behavioural skills are crucial as you start to lead people. Behavioural skills include things like: how you are communicating and listening, being able to deal with challenging people, giving and receiving feedback, building rapport, delegating, and managing conflict, to name a few.
When you start to level up, you can start focusing on doing less of the work that your team should be doing and building your team’s capability so they can perform better and take on more responsibility.
That’s the thing about leading. The person you were in your old, technical role must morph into another style of person. You need to approach things differently to lead the team well, so that you’re all performing at the right level. This is about letting go of what you used to do.
Ask yourself:

  • How are you really getting on in this new management role?
  • Do you find it easier to do everything yourself rather than teaching others what you know?

Levelling up
Levelling up means you are focusing on the work appropriate for your pay grade and leads you to becoming an effective leader. It’s about being prepared to: let go of your perfectionism; your need to control everything; and the need to stay across the smallest details of what your team is doing.
It reduces the risk of feeling overwhelmed and burning out and allows you to start to shine as a leader. Your team wants to be able to learn from you and be inspired to level up as well.
When you level up the whole team’s productivity increases, as does team engagement and collaboration, and the team can take on extra responsibility. You have some time back in your day to start focussing on that higher value, future focused work you didn’t have time for before, and more time outside of work to relax and rejuvenate.
You start to be noticed for the good work you and your team are doing and your career will start to soar.
This is leading, which requires new skills, so be prepared to become a learner again.I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you manage in this changed working environment - both as a team member and as a leader.

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