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Navigating the road from doer to leader

Being a star contributor is different than being a star leader. Here are five things that need to change on your road trip toward leadership.

5 min read


Navigating the road from doer to leader

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Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by Jonathan Dapra.

The road to great leadership is filled with many turns. At each intersection, your role changes. So do the capabilities required to be successful. The first, most pronounced turn in your journey as a leader comes with a role change from doer to leader.

You may be the owner of a small business that has begun to grow. You could be a standout professional in a large company that has started to climb the organizational ladder. Whoever you are and however you arrived at this point, much of the road you have traveled was driven by your ability to exceed expectations with individual contributions to a company plan.

Now your role has changed. It is no longer all about how you individually contribute to business results. It is about the business result you achieve through those with whom you work. 

The turn in the leadership road

Most new leaders recognize that shifting from doer to leader requires you to become a better delegator — you certainly cannot do everything. But outstanding leadership is more than delegation. The best leaders accelerate into this turn with a new mindset. They recognize they must organize, motivate and empower others. At the same time, their decision-making must be notable and effective, ensuring their team maximizes results.

Are you at this turn in the leadership road? If you are, then you know your role is no longer about what you do each day. Your continued achievement relies on the collective efforts of the team you lead. Begin by using these five success factors known to exponentially improve your leadership impact.


1. Create your vision and share it

Leaders must know where they want to go: What will we achieve? How will we do this? When will we accomplish our goals? Envision the future you want to create and understand what you and your team need to do to bring it to reality. The vision is a road map. Collaborate with your new associates to finalize the vision. They bring unique perspectives that make the plan more complete. More importantly, their engagement is likely to result in greater buy-in and commitment to the cause.


2. Build mutually beneficial relationships

If you want your team to be successful, start on day one with a goal to build professional relationships. Encourage trust across the team. Build loyalty to each other and the plan. Communicate your belief in their abilities and that you are relying on them to succeed (for themselves and the team). Leaders who establish sincere, mutually respectful relationships among their associates develop a loyalty that will help their team achieve any task it undertakes.

3. Be a master of feedback

A good leader provides fair and balanced feedback to their team members. The best leaders take it to the next level. Use feedback to encourage and guide your associates to be better, to achieve more than they ever thought they could. Use your time to develop individuals — the more each one grows and succeeds, the greater your team’s results.


4. Know your business

One of the reasons you became the leader is because you demonstrated a high degree of business acumen. Your industry knowledge, financial awareness and decision-making skills must be better than ever — your new team will continually evaluate your decisions. As you demonstrate successful and results-oriented business skills, you will build respect among your team members and they will begin to embrace and mirror your approaches.


5. Walk the talk

If you build a vision, develop relationships, encourage individual accomplishment and demonstrate effective decision-making, this last success factor is the natural result of your efforts. Be the shining example of what you say your team is all about. How can you expect your associates to bring their A-game to work each day when you are doing anything less? Be the team member to whom everyone looks to and remembers that’s what we are all about.

Transitioning from a successful sole contributor or small business founder to a leader of people is a challenge. As you continue your leadership journey, what you do and how you accomplish things during this part of the trip will be the experience that propels you further down the leadership road. Buckle up, put yourself into gear, and have a fantastic ride.


Jonathan Dapra specializes in strategy and leadership development. His upcoming book, “From 50 to 500,” explores challenges leaders of small companies face as they endeavor to grow their business, and unlocks the secrets to high-impact leadership. Dapra has over 20 years of diverse experience as an executive, entrepreneur, trainer and coach. He has considerable experience in early-stage companies. small business and institutional investment. Dapra is a professor at Plymouth State University and one of the founders of Alaric, a consulting firm specializing in small- to midsize-business strategy and leadership.

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