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Stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown

It is quite normal to have our thoughts and emotions hijacked by anxiousness when preparing to take on a new role, project or team. We can become overwhelmed with these thoughts and emotions to the point where we are not thinking clearly or perhaps even rationally. And we haven’t actually done anything yet.

Let’s take a step back in time. The people who made the decision to place this higher level of responsibility on you did so because they believe you are the best person for the role. They believe you are capable of achieving their desired outcomes. They believe you have the capacity to learn and grow in this new role and to be the person they need to grow the company in the future. They should also understand that learning and growing takes time, commitment and support from both sides.


There are some essential building blocks that will help you move forward with confidence. 

 Clarity: Seek as much clarity and truth about your role, responsibilities and reporting lines as possible. There is a need for discussions on expectations of those you will be reporting to, those who report to you and vice versa. Research the teams’ history to understand previous concerns and successes. When you have this clarity, you are better able to ascertain your own strengths that will support you in your new role and more clearly identify your development needs. Having this knowledge removes the unknowns and diminishes your potential to be anxious from over thinking the reality of the role.


Action: We will often need courage to make decisions and take action in areas which are new to us. Having personal one-on-ones with team members is a great way to create a mutual understanding of each other as people and respective capabilities. Exploring each other’s thinking typically results in better ideas while making it easier to assign tasks, delegate and to build a collaborative environment which often leads to more substantial outcomes. Your team and manager will expect you to be decisive and take action when necessary.


Practice: Remember, taking action also means we make mistakes. How we react to a mistake makes an enormous difference to establishing self confidence in our role. Knowing it is an inherent component of the learning process means we take the opportunity to be open and honest about our mistakes, seek advice or greater understanding from the person we report to, a peer or colleague and then implement it. Through consistent practice, focus and determination we will learn to get it right and continue to progress in our role. Honest self-reflection and feedback from others will help to continuously improve our current and newly learned capabilities whilst identifying new opportunities for personal and professional development.


Authenticity: Knowing and living your personal values goes a very long way in establishing yourself as the person you really are rather the person you believe other people want you to be. Being open, honest and transparent in your dealings with others in an appropriate and respectful way helps others to see you as a person more worthy of their trust. And that is the foundation stone for people believing in you as a role model.


Be true to yourself and move forward quietly, calmly confident




Peter Cullen is an education and training facilitator who teaches IML Education and training courses.

Each three-day program engages participants in developing and implementing their capabilities as managers and leaders.





Chartered Manager (CMgr) is the internationally-recognised professional designation accrediting management and leadership excellence.
The highest status that can be achieved as a manager and leader, it allows managers to professionalise their leadership skills and stand out in a competitive global market.
Focused on Continuing Professional Development (CPD), Chartered Manager is awarded on experience, expertise and a commitment to management and leadership.

For more details visit Chartered Manager


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