“You’ve just won the pie eating competition. And the prize is MORE PIE!!”
That was what someone said to me when I was promoted many many years ago back in my corporate days. I love that phrase and I still laugh when I think about it. But here’s the thing …. while he meant it as a joke, ironically, there’s some true to this.
Sometimes, we chase after a goal so hard that we often don’t think about what happens after. That dream promotion for example. The one that comes with the fancy title, a nice bump in salary (hopefully) and that corner office with an actual door no less! The long hours, the sacrifices made finally pay off and we’re called up to claim our prize.
Then reality sets in. Because a promotion also means more work. A heck of a lot more work. An avalanche of work to be exact. You’re now in a ton more meetings because suddenly EVERYONE wants your input and approval to EVERYTHING. You need to navigate more delicate internal politics to get things done. You have more direct reports each with his or her own unique wants and needs. And in today’s business, your team is likely more spread out geographically and more culturally diverse which brings even more unique challenges. I could go on but you get my point.
Hot on the heels of reality come our good friends Mr Fear and Mrs Self Doubt. Those good old pals that were never that far away to start with. Now their voices are loud and clear in your head – “What were you thinking? You don’t know how to do this! You’re going to fail big time!”.
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have that brief flash of panic. Moving into a bigger role is like drinking from a fire hose. That part is true. What’s also true is that you can avoid drowning if you stay clear headed and focused.
Get your mindset straight – you got the promotion because you deserve it
Your company and management aren’t stupid. No one benefits if you crash and burn. They wouldn’t have promoted you if they didn’t think you could do the job. Yes, you will be stretched way outside your comfort zone but you’ll also surprise yourself with what you’re capable of achieving. So stop questioning yourself.
See in yourself what they see in you
Whenever fear kicks in, we immediately focus on all our weaknesses. Do the complete opposite. Remind yourself of all your strengths. Write down what you’ve accomplished over the last few years. Look for ways to build off your strengths. This will boost your confidence.
Be aware but not paralysed by your weaknesses
Know your leadership vulnerabilities, especially how you behave while under stress. Develop a plan and get support to manage around it. Find a mentor who can help you navigate unfamiliar territories.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
You will have more than you can accomplish from Day One. That’s a given. So, do yourself a favour and identify one or two early wins. Easy stuff where you can quickly make the biggest difference. It might be simple operational changes that will really help your team. They will notice and appreciate you for it. Then develop your 90-day plan to tackle the bigger stuff, and make sure you align this with your manager.
Be clear why you want it
Sometimes we realise, too late, that we’re on the wrong train. What I mean is that in the midst of working so hard to achieve that promotion, we lose sight of why we wanted it in the first place. Check in every now and then to ensure your career goals are truly aligned with what matters most to you. Not just because that is what’s expected of you, or it’s what everyone else is shooting for.
Remember, you gotta love pie if you want to win that pie eating competition!