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Emma Steps Up... or being a New Leader

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Regular readers of my blog will know that one of the three things I do with my life is Zumba. (The other two being work and look after my family!).

Last week our Zumba classes were taken by Emma. Emma is 17 years old, quite quiet by nature, and not really one to put herself out there. She is of course, very good at Zumba. Our usual teacher is in her late 20s, extroverted and full of confidence (and of course, very good at Zumba).

Substituting one with the other is never going to seamless. Does this sound familiar?

Teams get used to one particular leader. They get into a comfort zone, know what’s expected, and understand the leaders style. But then that leader gets promoted, leaves or moves to another team. The team is left a little disoriented and not sure what to expect.

The NEW leader has been selected because they are technically competent, but that is where the similarity with the ‘old’ leader ends. It can be incredibly difficult for a new leader to come into an established team, but I was so impressed with the way that Emma stepped up to the challenge:

  • Firstly, she admitted that she may not be as slick as Ellen – she is less experienced afterall and Ellen has built the class (team) around HER preferences
  • She asked us to follow HER moves, not do the ones that Ellen does as she may do some things differently (recognising differences and establishing her authority)
  • She ‘borrowed’ a bit of Ellen…whooping and cheering (sometimes) even though it isn’t her natural style, to make things seem more familiar to us (known as modelling in the L&D world)
  • She asked for help by getting two demonstrators on stage (using the support available)
  • She thanked us for our efforts (recognition)


And all these things, from someone who isn’t even legally an adult yet, made the 50+ people in the room want to help her to succeed. She was fab :-)

If you are a new leader, remember that you need to get the balance right between demonstrating your authority and asking for the support of others. Show you are human, lead in your own way but learn from other leaders, and be realistic about how long it will take you to fill the shoes of the outgoing, more experienced leader. Have the confidence to step up. If you don’t feel it, ‘borrow it’. Most people will want you to succeed.

If you need a bit more help with developing leadership skills in your organisation, why not check out our Leadership Package ? We'll even give you 20% off until the end of August if you use the code 'EmmaBlog' at the checkout :-)

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