Letting go of the detail when you have been promoted

Many Governance professionals reach the point where they have been promoted based on their excellent and accurate technical skills.  Their promotion brings with it a number of exciting new leadership challenges.  But because their reputation has been built on their technical accuracy and responsiveness, it can be difficult to allow others take over.  But if they do not, they do not make space for the new challenges.

I have seen Governance Professionals in this position who are swamped with work.  They are unable to give sufficient time to the new, such as leading, planning and strategy, because they can’t let go of the old.  Their team members may also be frustrated because they are not being fully utilised and don’t feel trusted.

If you have been internally promoted this can be a particularly challenging issue, because the Board know how great things used to be and don’t want any degradation in service.  They may even subconsciously encourage you not to let go.  If this sounds familiar, apart from delegating well, as outlined in my previous blog, what could you do?  Here are some of the things others have found helpful:

  • You could recall some great role models you may have had. If you have worked for someone who delegated really effectively and trusted you to deliver, think about what they did, how great that made you feel and how you benefited.  If you have had no positive role models, what about bad ones?  What did they do, how did that make you feel and what impact did it have on your development?  Learn lessons from these examples.  If you see letting go as a positive way to develop others this might help.
  • Look at your new role and (with your line manager if necessary), identify what tasks your new role requires you to do. Identify tasks that you should no longer be doing and delegate these.  The old tasks can be quite comforting and tempting because you know how to do them and are good at them, but you’ve been promoted – embrace the change and let them go!
  • Quite simply, learn to trust others. It can be very scary, and at first things might go a little less smoothly.  But unless you trust others you will not be able to make the most of the opportunities of your new role, you will be overworked and the people you should be delegating to will feel underutilised, untrusted and frustrated.
  • Be open to the fact that someone else might actually be able to do a task better than you! This does not threaten your position, but will reflect well on you because you will be leading a high performing team.  However, do not take all the glory – recognise and praise the work of others.

For some, letting go is really challenging.  If you need support with this consider working with a coach or signing up to the ICSA mentoring scheme.

Next week I will cover networking skills.