What does done look like in your life & career

When it comes to getting the desired results, author Brené Brown suggests this question: “What does done look like?” to get everyone on the same page. Once people on a team are clear about what is expected of them, they can get to work.

Brown details how to use this technique in several of her books. The question is intended to drive honest conversations about when a task or a project will be considered complete. As part of the process of answering “What does done look like,” the leader makes sure whoever is carrying out the task has ownership, all the information, tools and resources needed. I believe we could use this question and the same kind of approach across many areas of our lives, not only to complete a project.

What does done look like when it refers to your goals

We live in an era of intensified competition. When success is often measured by your next great achievement. There’s little time spent celebrating who you are and where you are right now and a lot in working for the future. Granted, I’m an avid supporter of ambition. It clearly keeps the world moving and the human race progressing. Yet, there’s something to be said about the cost of not taking stock. Smelling the roses. Feeling good about yourself. Feeling enough. So why not ask, “What does done look like in terms of my goals? When will I feel I’ve reached them? What markers can I put in place to realize I’ve “arrived” at that destination I’ve set for myself?” And once you do, enjoy it for a while.

I’m not talking about becoming complacent. I’m talking about taking a solid break when you achieved your goal to savor the new place you carved for yourself. Who you are after achieving them. How much more confident you feel. How much more you could now do for others by sharing what it took to reach this particular stage in your life and career.

Take time to celebrate your achievements

Take time to celebrate your achievements

When is enough enough when you can’t get what you want

Conversely, there comes a time in almost everyone’s life and career when you have to cut your losses. Those occasions when after working for a long time towards a specific goal you realize you’ll never reach it. Whether it is a specific title, or client you were after, or discovering the formula to cure a disease or filing a patent. Whatever it is in your case, you arrive at the realization that it won’t happen. At least, not in the way you initially planned. When is it time to recalculate? To stop investing time, energy, money, hope in an idea that you can’t turn into reality? When is the right time to call it quits and move on?

As important as it is to have objectives that get us out of bed every morning, it is to keep a realistic outlook that enables us to recalibrate when things don’t go as expected. Persistence and grit are remarkable traits to have. They are what keep you going when the going gets tough, and they should also be put to use when you have the courage to stop going. When you sit with yourself, evaluate the situation and face a negative outcome you weren’t expecting. This is the perfect moment to talk to someone you trust who knows what you were trying to accomplish and can objectively advice you on whether it’s time to change the goal or the path to get it.

Keep a realistic outlook to recalibrate goals

Keep a realistic outlook to recalibrate goals

When are you done with your job

I work with female talent in large organizations for a living so I’m the last person who would advice you to quit without trying your best to figure out a way to stay in your company. Many women face difficulties with their organization’s culture and with lack of growth opportunities. My approach is to help them identify the problem and then the potential solutions. Yet, when you’ve tried everything, and serious problems continue to interfere with your career growth, or affect your health, there comes a time to question when enough is enough. What is that limit that pushes you to make a decision to leave?

What does that moment when you are done with your job look like? How do you know when you’ve tried everything? Who could help you figure out if you are seeing the 360 of the situation? If you actually did try all possible solutions?

It’s not smart to wait until you get sick, depressed or develop a serious case of insomnia before you make this type of decision. Once you reach a point when you dread going to work, you don’t feel appreciated, or you feel a lack of purpose, you’ve gone too far. So keep an eye out for telling signs that things are not going well at work. Reach out to trusted colleagues. Have a courageous conversation with your boss about how you feel and ask questions. “Am I missing anything? Is there anything I could/should be doing differently?” Stay curious and open to the insights people share and see if they resonate with you.

It’s important to figure out what may not be working before you jump to a different job to ensure you don’t end up in a similar situation.

Leveraging your personal traits in your job
When will you be done being busy

When will you be done being busy

What does done look like when it comes to being busy

Brené Brown talks a lot about the pernicious effects in our society of equating being productive and being busy with being successful.  It’s so much a part of our daily conversations:

“How are you?”

“Oh, busy, busy. And you?”

“Yes, super busy too.”

Sometimes it can feel like if you are not busy you are a loser.  But aren’t most of us trying to succeed so we have more time to enjoy life? So, when are you hoping to do that? When do we stop being busy to put our feet up? To take a vacation? To watch a movie with our loved ones? When are we finally done with all that busyness? When will you feel you’ve done enough, worked enough, checked enough boxes before you go home? Go to bed? Turn the phone off?

Integrating your work and personal lives

I know this post offers more questions than answers. And that is exactly my purpose. To get us all to slow down and think a little about issues that affect the quality of our lives. Taking the time to answer these questions can truly help you craft a much more fulfilling career and life.

Not being busy inspirational quote

Don’t let our culture’s push for busyness distract you from your real purpose.

Solutions to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

Ready to move beyond pointing fingers to find effective solutions to promote gender equality in your organization? Here’s how!

The conversation about women in the workplace has intensified and with it the need to find solutions to promote gender equality in the workplace.

The #MeToo movement brought to light a slew of stories that hadn’t been told. Or that hadn’t been heard, rather. It opened a can of worms but it also opened a dialogue that had been off limits for a long time. Granted, a lot of pain and discomfort results from these conversations but the search for real solutions to promote gender equality has started in earnest. Not that it wasn’t something many organizations hadn’t been working towards for many years. Yet this time a larger number of companies seem to have realized it’s critical to their survival.

How to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

Most organizations are doing their best to level the playing field for everyone. Yet they still face unsatisfactory ratings from their associates. Or female talent that gets stuck in middle management. Or a large percentage of women who leave the company at faster rates than their male counterparts. What to do when it seems like you tried everything and have little to show for your efforts?

The RSM Circles are one of the effective solutions to promote gender equality in your workplace.

The RSM Circles are one of the effective solutions to promote gender equality in your workplace.

3 Solutions to Foster Gender Equality

1Ask the right questions

Don’t assume you know the answers to what the problem is. Or that you read some research and that’s exactly what’s happening in your workplace. And don’t just send out a survey. After having responded to many of them, most people are frustrated with the lack of action taken as a result of the findings.

Seek to understand from one-on-one meetings and small groups. Conduct comprehensive exit interviews with women and find out why they are leaving. Now, making sure you ask the right questions is key to identifying the real problem. When in doubt, consult with a few trusted female associates.

2Design to promote inclusion

If you’re truly interested in solutions to promote gender equality, in other words, in fostering inclusion, you can design for it.

  • From the way in which you conduct your hiring to the words you use in your job postings. You could scan your postings for wording that tends to attract one sex over the other and adjust accordingly. Adjectives like “highly competitive” and “ambitious” tend to attract men. Others such as “empathetic” or “community oriented” tend to attract women.
  • From the approach you use to give performance feedback to female employees to how you define cultural fit. Research shows that supervisors of both sexes tend to give personality-driven feedback to women and performance-driven feedback to men.
  • From how you talk about statistics to how you talk about leaders. When you constantly emphasize the small number of women CEOs you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Women perceive it’s not a job for them and men confirm their unconscious biases that this is a role for their gender mates.

Every aspect of your organization can be evaluated for unconscious biases and solutions can be designed to override any biases.

3Offer your female talent the resources to reach equality

Although reaching equality should not be the “job” of any woman but a given in the workplace, part of it still falls on women’s lap.

Given women’s upbringings and the social norms we adhere to, most of us are conditioned to behave in a certain way. When you add the expectations of different cultures you have a collection of behaviors that may get in the way of success.

For example, Chinese women are raised to revere seniority and keep their distance but in Corporate America they are expected to approach senior executives at events in order to develop strong networks.

One of the best ways to resolve this is by providing women with the right tools to negotiate, navigate politics and power dynamics. To help them build resilience and confidence in order to break away from social and cultural norms that may keep them from reaching their full potential. And helping female talent feel like they belong in your company and that they can reach executive levels, is one of the best solutions to promote gender equality.

Of course, different sized companies will need different solutions. Let’s start tailoring them to the smallest organizations.

Finding solutions to promote gender equality is everyone's responsibility.

Finding solutions to promote gender equality is everyone’s responsibility.

How to Promote Gender Equality in Small Organizationes

If you’re serious about finding solutions to promote gender equality the first item to consider is the size of your company. Smaller organizations may find it easier to establish simple measures to reach gender equality.

Here are a few solutions that will help you level the playing field

  • Set up a specific salary range per band or position and make sure everyone within the band/role gets paid equally.
  • Design a questionnaire for each job application and make sure you ask every applicant the exact same questions in the exact same order. Assign a point range per question, for example 1-5. Then have a third person add up the points for each candidate and pick the one with the most points for the position. If it’s a tie, you may want to select the person who would best balance your current gender distribution at the level you are hiring.
  • Switch around the time and day of the week of your networking events so everyone can attend. This way, women who may be responsible for their family after hours, can also attend and benefit from strategic networking.

If you feel you need a more comprehensive solution, take a look a the RSM Programs.

Persistence with your gender equality strategy plays a key role in seeing results.

Persistence with your gender equality strategy plays a key role in seeing results.

Solutions to Promote Gender Equality in Medium to Large Companies

Now if you work for a larger employer, thesesolutions are intrinsically more complicated. Years of unchecked unconscious biases, long-established procedures, unwritten rules, and favoritism make it tougher to find effective strategies. When you add women’s general reluctance to rock the boat plus the double bind they face if they do, you have yourself a complex situation.

This collision of circumstances is what the Red Shoe Movement can help you resolve. Our diversity and inclusion solutions will strengthen women’s self agency and sense of belonging to your organization. Read more about our solutions here.

We find (and research supports it) that effective solutions to promote gender equality are never one-offs. They are never made up of one program or one initiative. They are part of a strategy that impacts your entire organization over time.

They come after a good assessment of where you stand in terms of gender inclusion and they involve the commitment of leaders at all levels. You can’t expect things to change by only offering leadership development for your female talent. Just as you can’t expect results by only focusing on discussing the problems and never acting on them.

Only when you look at your organization as a whole, layout a coherent strategy to work with all the stakeholders and persist, will the solutions to foster gender inclusion bear positive results.

Turn Professional Disadvantage into Your Advantage

Thinking of turning a professional disadvantage into an advantage may sound contradictory to you. But, as Malcolm Gladwell proposes in his book David and Goliath, we often underestimate the benefits of the disadvantage.

Gladwell explains it by analyzing the biblical story of David and Goliath from a different point of view. From his perspective, David’s very inferior size, lack of protective armor, heavy weapons and training (which historically was interpreted as a disadvantage) were the reason he won the fight. That is, he did not win it despite being much smaller than Goliath. He won it because he was smaller and more agile and because he had other skills that Goliath didn’t expect from an opponent with whom he was going to have a close range combat.

A professional disadvantage can be your best advantage. Get inspired by David and Goliath's story.

A professional disadvantage can be your best advantage. Get inspired by David and Goliath’s story.

David was not an infantryman like Goliath. He was a shepherd boy used to using a sling to defend his flock from predatory beasts. Therefore, he wasn’t wearing heavy armor that limited his movements and slowed him down, as his enemy was wearing. Moreover, he didn’t occupy his hands with a shield, a spear and a sword. The boy just carried a sling and a bag with five stones.

By skillfully shooting a pebble to Goliath’s forehead, David ended the giant’s life and then cut off his head with the fallen man’s own sword.

Now, think about it. We have spent centuries using this story as an example that sometimes those who are most disadvantaged can overcome those most advantaged (the weakest beat the strongest, the poorest beat the richest, etc.) when statistics show that this turn of events takes place much more frequently than we think. It’s time to review our idea of ​​what a disadvantage is.

Don't miss 4 Simple Actions to Improve your Self Confidence
Identify your professional disadvantage and turn it into your best advantage.

Identify your professional disadvantage and turn it into your best advantage. Here Katy Sullivan, 4 times- US Champion of 100 meters, runs with her prosthetics.

Turning any professional disadvantage into an advantage

In your career it is simple to justify that whatever doesn’t go well for you happens because you have a professional disadvantage (or any kind of disadvantage for that matter.) You don’t have the right education or contacts; you don’t have the proper title; you’re overqualified or you live in the wrong town or country. What would happen if you took this apparent professional disadvantage and let it guide you towards a solution only you could identify? Something that few people without your particular professional disadvantage would even think of.

For example, your apparent professional disadvantage is that you live in an economically depressed area where the economy is broken, it is difficult to get work, and everything is an uphill battle. By carefully observing your situation you realize that the cost of living where you are is so low that you could offer products or services at attractive prices abroad. Can you use e-commerce platforms such as, or to sell your product or service outside your town or your country?

Or, considering your professional disadvantage is that as the marketplace has changed, your role has been collapsed into other roles and it no longer exists as stand alone. You seem to be overqualified for most of the jobs you apply to. Could you set up a consulting business that offers services to those companies which no longer have your position as they are deemed to have unfulfilled needs?

Or suppose you are interested in running a new project in your job and the other person being considered for the position has much more experience than you. Instead of seeing your lack of experience as a professional disadvantage, take advantage of it to focus on developing good relationships with those with whom you would be working on the project in question. By doing so, you have a chance to share your unique points of view, your great creativity and your social skills. In other words, you demonstrate with facts the great value you would bring to that group if you were chosen. Suddenly, your lack of experience is no longer relevant because the team feels comfortable with you and what you bring to the table so you become the obvious choice.

Let your professional disadvantage guide your success

Let your professional disadvantage guide your success

Lateral thinking can help you figure out best way to leverage your professional disadvantage

You can read this article and say, “Yeah, it’s easier said than done. Not all professional disadvantages can be turned around.” Sure, it’s true that there are situations where you won’t come out on top. But you will always get more benefits from using your professional disadvantage as a driving force to get ahead than by letting it determine a future in which you are not happy.

So try it. You have nothing to lose. Sit down with your perceived or real disadvantage which you consider is responsible for your current frustration and let it guide you into the field with David’s confidence. With no armor, no weapons, just a sling and a bag with five stones. And see what happens.

Leadership Development Event with an Entirely Different Approach

It’s always hard for those who haven’t attended, to figure out how a leadership development event can be so without speakers or workshops. Yet, our Signature Event is an experiential conference where participants develop their leadership skills hands-on . Here’s a taste of it.

A leadership development event without speakers

A unique leadership development event, once again the RSM Signature Event took place at MetLife in 2017

A unique leadership development event, once again the RSM Signature Event took place at MetLife in 2017

When I first sat down with a group of young women Ambassadors to imagine the RSM Signature Event back in 2011, I knew I didn’t want another leadership development conference with speakers, breakout sessions, panels and presentations. I wanted an experiential event. So from the get go, we created a unique format that fosters participation, a leveled playing field where everyone had a chance to teach and learn from each other,  and a high level of energy.

Left: Susan Podlogar, EVP, and Chief Human Resources Officer. Right: Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Left: Susan Podlogar, EVP, and Chief Human Resources Officer flaunting her red soles. Right: Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

And given that the Red Shoe Movement is at the intersection of fashion and self-leadership, we wanted that extra oomph. We finally found it in 2015 when Farylrobin (designers for brands such as Anthropologie and Free People) became our event sponsor. For the last three years we’ve given away between 50-70 pairs of amazing shoes, specially designed for us, at early registration.

In 2017 our event was once again,  at MetLife, our Platinum sponsor for the fourth year in a row. This time, at their amazing new facilities by Grand Central Station!

The Keynote Interview

One of the hardest things to do when you organize an annual leadership development event is to resist the temptation of having a keynote speaker. It’s tough because it’s what most people expect, both the attendees and your keynote guest! You have to convince your guest that the interview format allows for a more relaxed, intimate conversation. That makes for a much better experience for the audience as they get to see the vulnerable side of a leader they admire and hear insights they seldom hear in a straight forward keynote speech. In our recent event, the keynote guest was Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, and one of the honorees of our 2017 Hall of Fame.

Lisa was warm, honest, funny, humble… She shared some difficult times in her career in a way that made her completely relatable.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Philip Klint during the Keynote interview at RSM Signature Event 2017

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Philip Klint during the Keynote interview at RSM Signature Event 2017

After Philip Klint, Emmy-award winning, journalist, producer and anchor of NY1 Noticias in NYC, interviewed her, it was the audience’s turn to ask Lisa questions. And unlike any other leadership development event where people tend to shy away from the mic, this group had a bunch of incisive questions for her.

In the final part of the session the guest asks questions of the audience. And so did Lisa, closing the circle of mutual mentoring we practice throughout the event.

“Aha” moment from the Keynote Q&A session

“After I heard Lisa share her story, I realized that while I have achieved some career success by moving up to an executive role (where at times I am the only Latina in leadership meetings,) this role is not my final goal. I have more steps to climb to be able to open doors for other Latinos(as).  It was like an epiphany to hear Lisa because this new thought formed in my head and I figured out what my next career goal should be. To that end, I contacted one of my mentors who is a CIO at my company. I warned him that I was aiming high because I wanted to be part of his SLT team (the majority of which are white males.) His reply was that it was a good aspiration that required that I build my skills and experience.  Lisa lit up a fire in me and infused me with energy to come out of my comfort zone and pursue a new dream.  I am eternally grateful to her,” Beth Marmolejos, Anthem

Our mutual mentoring circles go farther than workshops in a traditional leadership development event

The RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles

I spoke about our Mutual Mentoring Circles on another post but it bears repeating that they are at the core of our leadership development event. It’s a chance for participants to experience our methodology.

At our leadership development event, the RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles are a core part of the program

At our leadership development event, the RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles are a core part of the program

Right after the interview with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, we went into two rounds of six RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles. These are conversations about critical career topics, such as Your Brand Already Exists, Successful Negotiation Strategies, and so on, which were facilitated by six executives who are trained in our methodology. Judging from our facilitators own comments, these are among the hardest conversations to facilitate. The key is to let the conversation flow without sharing their own expert opinions. Which, as they are all senior executives with clear insights into each conversation, it’s a challenge.

This year our star facilitators were:

Lucía Ballas-Traynor, EVP Client Partnerships, Hemisphere Media Group, Inc.

Lily Benjamin, Global Talent, Organizational Development & Change Management, Bank of America.

Ali Curi, President, Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG)

Joe DiGiovanni, Director, Member Engagement, The Conference Board

Cosette Gutiérrez, VP, Operations & Social Responsibility,

Stephen Palacios, Partner and Principal Ahzul

From Left to right: Stephen Palacios, Joe DiGiovanni, Lily Benjamin, Mariela Dabbah, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Ali Curi and Cosette Gutiérrez.

From Left to right: Stephen Palacios, Joe DiGiovanni, Lily Benjamin, Mariela Dabbah, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Ali Curi and Cosette Gutiérrez.

“Aha” moment following the Mutual Mentoring Circles

“Learning from colleagues and peers is a wonderful way to learn. We will practice this inside our company,” Alejandro Barranca, Novartis

An experiential leadership development event for all participants

The Executive Circle

This year we launched our first Executive Circle. A group of executives who meets on stage to exchange personal questions and advice on the topic of the Importance of Learning from Failure. Moderated by our expert facilitator, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, the group alternated between asking questions about this topic and sharing insights and experience. Very much along the lines of what everybody had been doing doing the Mutual Mentoring Circles but this time, in front of the entire audience, fishbowl style.

It was humbling to hear Katherine Blostein, partner at Outten & Golden, LLP, a NYC law firm, share her mother’s response to her news of not passing the Bar exam the first time around. “It was a mistake to bring you to America.” After which she hung up the phone on her distraught daughter. It was one of many moving stories that the circle participants shared with each other. “Eavesdropping “on this conversation inspired the audience to keep going, to trust their own abilities to reach any position they aspire to.

At our annual recent leadership development event, the Executive Circle. From Left to right: John Basile, Katherine Blostein, Alejandro Barranca, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Frank Gómez and Elizabeth Nieto.

At our annual recent leadership development event, the Executive Circle. From Left to right: John Basile, Katherine Blostein, Alejandro Barranca, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Frank Gómez and Elizabeth Nieto.

The Executive Circle participants were:

Alejandro Barranca, HR Head LACan Oncology, Novartis

John Basile, Head of D&I, Fidelity Investments

Katherine Blostein, Partner, Outten & Golden LLP

Frank Gomez, Executive Director, External Relations, ETS

Elizabeth Nieto, Chief Global D&I Officer, MetLife

Facilitated by: Lucia Ballas-Traynor, EVP Client Partnerships, Hemisphere Media Group

“Aha” moment following our Executive Circle

“As the daughter of a working mom, it resonated with me when Elizabeth Nieto talked about not being home for her children as much as other non-working moms. And the fact that later on her adult daughter told her she didn’t remember most of those times. I would like to do something with the Red Shoe Movement from the perspective of being the daughter of a working woman,” Ginaly Gonzalez

The #RedLookBook

Inspired by the idea that everyone should find their “inner red shoes” as expressed in my book Find Your Inner Red Shoes, this year we launched our #RedLookBook booth.

It is a space with a “red carpet” —which is actually black to help us highlight red shoes— where people flaunt their style. Participants choose one of the 7 RSM Principles and in the picture they appeared framed by that principle. It helps us continue to disseminate the idea that identifying your style is critical to your success. And I don’t just mean your clothing style but your style as a person. How you communicate, how you relate to others, how you resolve problems. And in a leadership development conference, this is an important insight to have.

The four winners of the #RedLookBook won an experience at our sponsor Farylrobin’s studio where they’ll learn how shoes are designed and made. And of course they’ll walk away with a pair of shoes!

The winners were:

MEejie Chaparro-Traverso 

Elvira Ortiz 

Rosmery Osuna

Theresa Torres

The team behind our leadership development event of 2017

Annerys Rodriguez, Director of our RSM Signature Event with her Red Shoe Leader award

Annerys Rodriguez, Director of our RSM Signature Event with her Red Shoe Leader award

If you ever put a leadership development event or any other type of conference together, you know it takes a village. People who during months plan every single detail so that they day of, everything flows seamlessly. This year, we recognized Annerys Rodríguez, with our Red Shoe Leader award. She’s the Director of the Event and our oldest team member who is also our EMCEE. Since the beginning of the Red Shoe Movement she’s been behind the success of our Signature Event.

Year after year she trains and leads a team of committed Ambassadors, young women interested in advancing their careers, who are part of our community. It is this team that makes the wheels turn at this unique leadership development event with a very demanding format.

Ambassadors at our RSM Signature Event 2017

Ambassadors at our RSM Signature Event 2017- From Left to Right, sitting: Johanny Paulino, Cheyenne Vancooten, Concha Valadez, Annerys Rodríguez, Teresa Correa, Mariela Dabbah, Adrienne Loiseau. Standing from Left: Robin Bolton, Daisy Ortiz and Krystal Rodríguez.

One of the key people on our team is Gustavo Carvajal, our #IDEAcatalyst, the person behind our communications campaigns like the #RedLookBook and innovative ideas that help us continue to grow.

Gustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBookGustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBook

Gustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBook

And we couldn’t have done it without Concha Valadez, part of our PR team, Teresa Correa, our first Head of Ambassadors, Paul García, our Head of Experiential. And our facilitators and Ambassadors who make this amazing day possible. And of course, a big part of the success of an event like this is due to our social media partners. The amazing people who help us disseminate the information about our event. For that we are grateful to: LatinaCool who took over our social media and did a FB Live, Fairygodboss, the Latino Networks Coalition, Planet M, Latinas in Business U.S., Dreams in Heels, HPNG, Prospanica, and Latinas Who Travel.

As phenomenal as this year’s event was, I have no doubts that next year it will be even better. Because we are a community whose members are constantly mentoring each other, learning from one another, we get feedback, we tweak and grow. And that helps us offer you a better experience every time. So we hope to see you at the 2018 event!

And of course, if you want to bring this leadership development format to your company, drop us a note.

From Peer to Team Leader: 5 Keys to Making a Successful Transition

The first promotion is a special moment. Make the most of it by having a clear understanding of how to effectively transition from peer to team leader. Here are the 5 keys to achieve a successful transition!

“Mary, I want to congratulate you on your promotion. It’s official!” This is one of the most anticipated phrases by most of us with careers in large corporations. At first, a promotion fills us with pride, feelings of accomplishment and self-realization. Especially if it is one of the first promotions in our careers. The one that propels you from peer to team leader.

In my experience as a HR executive, ambiguous feelings tend to arise for those who have been promoted. For example, the desire to lead vs the concern of being perceived as authoritarian; an interest to position yourself positively in the eyes of the boss vs. the fear of being isolated from the team due to being perceived as a brownnoser.

It’s natural to be concerned about the transition from individual contributor to leader of those who were until recently your own co-workers. The people with whom you shared common codes and an easy camaraderie. This transition is certainly a challenging process. My goal is to share 5 strategic keys for you to make a successful transition from peer to team leader.

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

From peer to team leader in five simple steps

1Establish yourself in the new role organically while securing a few quick wins

You should aim to adapt organically to your new role as a leader. That is, avoiding drastic changes that could alter the climate and team performance. Trying to impose ideas, avoiding social gatherings or showing little availability for the members of your team are some of the pitfalls to avoid. The ideal solution is to adopt your leadership style gradually. Keep in mind that the first 90 days in your new role are extremely important as they set the tone for the team as to what to expect of you. According to Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” published by the Harvard Business Review, you must secure some quick wins during this time. If you want to know how to do it watch this 2 minute-video where Watkins explains it.

2Build Your Own Leadership Style

While you should give yourself some time to adapt to the new role, it is also important to think about your own leadership style. While you figure it out, try to avoid making drastic personality changes that may cause bewilderment, anxiety or resentment among your teammates. For example, if you were known as a person with a good sense of humor, it would be odd to stop smiling or making a harmless joke here and there. You can learn more about different leadership styles by taking this quiz.

Whatever leadership style you decide to adopt, I suggest you avoid any extremes: neither too authoritarian nor so friendly that you lose your team’s credibility and respect. Positive influence, a democratic approach to decision- making and active listening are three qualities to keep in mind for a leadership style that fits well in today’s workplace.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

3 Identify any teammates that may not be taking your promotion well

When a team member transitions from peer to team leader it is likely to cause changes in the internal group dynamics and in the relationships between its members. It is important that as a leader you make an initial diagnosis of the situation after your promotion and identify whether any of your former peers is dissatisfied with your appointment. Consider for example, that perhaps one of your colleagues applied for the same promotion and may now be frustrated for not having been selected. Whatever the case, it is good practice to hold individual meetings with every team member. They are great occasions to share your strategic vision for the future and let them know about your current double role. On the one hand, you will support their individual professional development and on the other you will focus on the success of the team as a whole. Finally, you have to be willing to accept that after the rules of the game have changed some people may decide to leave. This will be a sensitive issue both for yourself and for your team but rather than letting yourself be frustrated by this situation, focus on your future plans.

4 Seek the advice of those who have successfully transitioned from peer to team leader

A common mistake is to believe that now that you are a leader, others expect you to solve everything on your own. Asking for help is not a weakness. On the contrary, experienced professionals often ask for help in order to be successful at their job. Therefore, I suggest connecting with other leaders within the organization to ask about their own experiences and breakthroughs when they were promoted for the first time. You can also request recommendations for any internal training courses available for first time managers. In addition, if you have a mentor, this is a great time to exchange thoughts, share any concerns and ask for advice.

Here's a great  article to get the support of a mentor

Last but not least, your direct manager is also a key player and you should ask for his support if there are difficult or more complex issues that you don’t know how to approach.

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

5Partner with HR to learn about team management practices and policies

When you go from individual contributor to team leader, the development and management of the team becomes a priority in your agenda. Now, you will be in charge of team management decisions such as:

  • Identifying the training needs of the employees
  • Requesting the necessary budget for a job opening
  • Evaluating performance to allocate salary increases

Don’t let the new items on your agenda overwhelm you. Take it easy and learn every aspect of the talent management cycle based on need. Build a strong partnership with Human Resources from the get go to accelerate the learning curve of internal policies and procedures as well as the unwritten rules of the organization. For example, you may run into an unwritten rule when trying to get approval for a new job opening. The official procedure may be to create a job requisition through the ERP and to wait to obtain the approval in the system. But the unwritten practice may be to connect in advance with the regional director and obtain his/her approval informally before the formal request arrives at their desk. This informal practice is as important to your effectiveness as the formal procedure.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

Finally, I would like to invite you to celebrate the new journey you are about to begin. Becoming a leader is extremely rewarding, and meaningful leadership is built daily. Transitioning from peer to team leader is the first step. So there’s nothing better than to start off with the right foot!