Movin’ on Up: 7 Ways to Successfully Transition into a New Leadership Role

Congratulations! You have finally claimed that new title, increased position, or new team member you have been trying to hire!  It seems you’ve climbed the mountain and….arrived!

Not so fast turbo.

Take a minute to raise the glass and celebrate…and then…let’s get to work.    

I know, that sounds like a real downer. But one of the biggest challenges leaders face in transitioning into a new role, or even helping others on their team transition into new roles…is doing it effectively.  You are stepping into a living, breathing culture that is used to operating as it has.  No matter what your task or expectation, it is critical to pause and assess the situation, make a smart and strategic plan to lay a solid foundation, and use caution in stepping into your aspirations.

As leaders, we have to be prepared for the unexpected – ahead of every curve, and transitioning into a new role requires that same level of adaptability towards change. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to transitioning into a new role, which requires new tools, skills, and abilities with a dash of the experience and wisdom you’ve learned through the years.


This post goes deep into the leadership role transition process. So, we thought you’d enjoy this checklist to support you in your transition process. Click here or the image below to download it today:

All set? Awesome. Now let’s tap into the steps you can take to ensure you successfully transition into a new role.

#1 Do Your Homework

Jumpstart the transition process by doing the research. Figure out what everyone needs from you & pair up what you can bring to the table to make that happen. Use curiosity as your secret advantage – ask good questions and learn…a lot… about everything.

Set aside time to get comfortable with your role;  gaining a solid understanding of the key expectations for the role and clarity of performance objectives.  Get crystal clear on your own purpose and vision and how you connect with your role and the greater purpose of the team/organization.  Prepare your elevator pitches – who are you, what makes you tick, what are your negative triggers, and what are your initial hopes for the team.  What is your broad plan for the year to lay some initial expectations about what they can expect from you?

#2 Assess

Now it is time to put on your Indiana Jones explorer hat and start to assess how the team is performing.

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is assume they can fill all of the voids that people need them to fill; think they can do it all, don’t seek help, don’t know their weaknesses, etc.

Self-awareness is key. Figure out what you can and will contribute, how employee and organizational needs are in line with your strengths and how you can leverage your strengths to meet those needs versus where you will need to leverage support.  Use caution not to make too many commitments – leverage others and technology as much as you can!

At Energize Leadership, all our leadership programs begin with an assessment center – a process that will help you develop a roadmap to help you focus on the right things and build a plan for everything else!

#3 Seek Mentorship and Feedback

As leaders, asking for help can feel intimidating. We’re so used to being the guiding source of light that the idea of seeking help is uncomfortable…or daunting.

But guess what? Great leaders are proactive. They recognize the power of improvement; always looking to grow and improve, they understand that we all have blind spots that others can help us see.

There’s always room for improvement – feedback is the only way to achieve your goals because people are dynamic and relationships are key!

#4 Study and Embrace the Culture

Every workplace is different. Google headquarters and a law firm in Kansas probably don’t have similar workplace culture.

In order to thrive in your new role, you need to understand what is driving the culture in the workplace.  Consider asking yourself the following questions:

You may need to practice flexibility to fit into the cultural elements that work well, while cautiously and strategically dismantling the elements that are not helpful.  When it is necessary for the workplace to shift in different directions, pay close attention to helping employees and customers get on board with “new ways” while patiently allowing them to let go of “old ways.”

#5 Build Solid Relationships

Great leaders have one thing in common: they embrace people at all levels of their professional career.

For one, they work with people in powerful positions who can support them. Forming strategic alliances will support the long game.

Secondly,  supporting others is what leadership is all about and is the best way to build long-lasting relationships. Otherwise, you’re a director with a job to do, things to get done, and not inspiring others to work with you as a leader.

#6 Take Care of Your Brain

I’ve talked about mental distress in the past, but only because mental health is essential for leadership success. Ultimately, the demands of a transition are “extra.”  You work endless hours to prove yourself, to learn, to get things done, to “meet the needs of everyone,” it seems!

It’s easy for your “self” to fall through the cracks, which is why it is so important to maintain a clear head and steady focus; mentally, emotionally and physically. Putting self-care first helps your brain be more successful in all ways – getting stuff done, learning new things, and having the clarity you need to succeed for the long haul.

#7 Lead with Purpose

At the end of the day, purpose drives performance. As we said above in #1, get crystal clear on your own purpose and vision and how you connect with your role and the greater purpose of the team/organization.

When you set clear goals for yourself that are centered around your core purpose, you will achieve more than you imagine. 

Check out our Weekly Launch Pad that helps you start your week intentionally, and put what matters most first!

In the end…

The way you lead your life and team is ultimately up to you. There are millions of leadership styles out there, and you need to figure out what works for you.  If you want to lead with clarity, impact, and purpose, you’re in the right place. Energize Leadership’s suite of solutions is designed to meet Purposeful Leaders where they are so that they can make the impact they want to make. Whether it’s through our newly-launched online program, Leadership Roadmap to Success, or our in-depth individual and corporate coaching programs, we work with high-achieving leaders to support for their growth and success.

P.S. Don’t forget to download our free transition checklist!