Q I have recently been promoted internally and feel significantly out of my depth. I’m finding that coping with the new responsibilities of my senior executive role is challenging. I’d like to share my concerns with someone, but I’m worried this may be seen as a weakness. I know I’m up to the task, but I’m not sure how to adapt to my new role.
A First, don’t panic – these feelings are not unusual. In fact, it is surprising how many senior executives face this problem. Consider why you were promoted in the first place, and take comfort in the confidence your boss and organisation obviously have in you. As you say, you know you are up to the task.
Consider other moments in your life when you have experienced similar emotions. What did you do that helped you through? Could you replicate this solution in your new situation? Then, take a step back and think about what your new role entails. You will have new objectives and different priorities, and these should drive how you spend your time and where you find fulfilment. Trying to take this objective view will help you to assess what you have to adapt to, before you work out how you will do it.
Critically, there are things you will have to leave behind from the old job, although hanging on to them probably gives you comfort as they’re likely to be areas in which you excel. Unless you learn to let go, you can’t succeed in the new role.
It’s not a weakness to identify and confide in a trusted colleague who you believe will support you. Be careful though, because one of the hardest things to do is change your circle of peers, particularly when adapting to new relationships where some of your old, trusted peers are now subordinates. It is important to find an appropriate support network and cultivate new peer relationships to discuss ideas and seek insights about tricky situations, or to just vent frustrations.
Seek advice from those who have faced similar situations. Whatever you do, don’t ignore these feelings. Until you address them, they could reduce your effectiveness and slow down a successful transition.
Also, remember that people can only judge us by our behaviour. It is essential to gather feedback as it can address specific issues, and will no doubt aid your confidence over time.
After all, in your new role you must inspire confidence in others, and to do this you must find your own, authentic leadership style. Gathering detailed feedback will help ensure you are on the right track.
Adviser: Adrian Starkey, head of executive coaching, DDIFor more tips on leadership, go to
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