How to succeed in your new executive-level leadership role?

Stepping into a new high-level leadership role in the organization presents exciting challenges, but it is also a transition that requires your full attention. Are you about to cross the threshold into such a position, or have you already taken the first steps?

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Anni Vind Frandsen

Anni Vind Frandsen



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Stepping into a new high-level leadership role in the organization presents exciting challenges, but it is also a transition that requires your full attention. Are you about to cross the threshold into such a position, or have you already taken the first steps?

The career transition to this level is often complex and multi-dimensional, requiring both personal and professional development. This article delves into the core of what you need to be aware of as you’re on your way to taking a leadership position at the executive level – whether that’s as a partner, a member of the top management team, or another prominent role within your organization. Below, we share the five topics that we’ve found to be crucial for a successful transition through our work with hundreds of executives, supported by research on how to succeed in your new leadership role at the executive level.


Understand the criteria of success

Understanding your role and its success criteria are key elements to ensure a successful transition. Without clarity about the expectations for you, your role, and your leadership approach, the path forward may seem unclear and full of unforeseen obstacles. “The sooner you gain clarity about what you need to succeed in your new role, the easier it becomes for you to prioritize your time, and the better you can commit your team to your shared success” says Anni Vind Frandsen, partner at People & Performance.

Anni Vind Frandsen is a Partner at People & Performance and a certified executive coach. With experience from leading positions in large Danish companies and numerous coaching sessions, Anni has an in-depth understanding of the dynamics that come with a new leadership role. Her insights, shaped by both personal experience and research, are aimed at strengthening and guiding you in your leadership development.

Anni Vind Frandsen

Partner, People & Performance

You’re stepping into the spotlight

When you land in your new role, you will often step onto a new stage, where attention is focused on you. Whether you wish it or not. With the spotlight on you, it is essential to be aware of what you say or do not say, as your messages are heard and interpreted by a wide range of people in the organization around you. So, think carefully about your messages and pay attention to how they land.


Re-think delegation

Being able to delegate is crucial in any leadership role. As a leader, it is unrealistic to expect that you can personally handle all tasks. Therefore, mastering task delegation while ensuring effective follow-ups is crucial. When you step into an executive role, it often requires a critical reassessment of your approach to delegation, your need for control, your method of follow-up, and your awareness of how to create the most value for the organization.

First and foremost, effective delegation requires clarity about which tasks are most crucial for the organization’s success. This requires a deep understanding of both the organization’s needs and your employees’ competencies. By identifying the main priorities and addressing these first, you can ensure that your team focuses on what truly matters in terms of creating collective success.

“It is important to recognize that effective delegation and follow-up require a balance. This means that as a leader, you must be able to maintain control at the right level, where you move away from wanting to control all activities around you to ensuring that results and any deviations are well managed. This balance can be challenging and sometimes requires renegotiating with yourself what you want to control and what you want to let go,” says Anni Vind Frandsen.


“What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There”

Relying on the strategies and habits that previously led to your success may be tempting, but as it’s often been said, “what got you here won’t necessarily get you there.” When you step into a new executive role, you also enter a new arena with new rules. The ability to adapt and develop new skills is crucial here. Coaching is a valuable support in this development process. Coaching helps you identify and develop the new strategies and behavioral patterns that are essential for thriving and achieving results in your new setting.

Coaching guides you to understand the specific demands that your new role poses. It’s not just about understanding your role, the new tasks, and expectations, but also about developing a keen self-awareness of your strengths and development areas that will enable you to meet future challenges with sufficient self-awareness. This self-awareness often doesn’t come naturally but requires a dedicated effort and some conscious choices.

“It’s essential to find time to reflect on your new role, and coaching not only helps you realize what your personal and leadership standpoint is but also to understand which leadership competencies and behaviors need to be developed to succeed in the role,” emphasizes Anni Vind Frandsen.


Discipline yourself to reflect

In a busy everyday life, it may seem like a luxury to take the time to reflect. But it is not a luxury; it is an essential discipline that requires a conscious effort. Constantly being in ‘action mode’ may seem productive, but it can also be a trap that leads to wrong decision-making and reduced efficiency over time. Creating space for reflection is therefore crucial. Coaching is an effective method to help you with self-reflection.

Anni Vind Frandsen elaborates: “As you move up in the organization, your time horizon becomes longer, and it’s crucial that you create a habit of reflection to make long-term decisions with due diligence. You need to strengthen your ability to think strategically and make critical decisions, which is required at the executive level.”

By regularly setting aside time for coaching sessions, you are helped to prioritize reflection, which promotes a deeper understanding of yourself, your behavioral patterns, your strategic thinking, and your decision-making processes. “Disciplined reflection is not just an exercise in self-awareness but a strategic advantage that can enhance your leadership performance,” remarks Anni Vind Frandsen.

A crucial, but often overlooked, aspect of sustainable performance is the ability to maintain both physical and mental balance. It is about your inner sustainability, where you focus on maintaining a core of vitality and resilience at the individual level. This requires a deep understanding of your personal values, your own strengths and weaknesses, and the application of this self-awareness in relation to the context you’re in. It is about being able to stay sharp and relevant in the long run. By being aware of your own reactionary patterns, especially under pressure, you become better able to handle – or even prevent – derailing behavior, which otherwise can undermine your results and well-being.

“As you move up in the organization, more and more ethical dilemmas, opaque decision-making processes, and difficult trade-offs arise, making your awareness of your inner balance and your internal moral compass even more important,” elaborates Anni Vind Frandsen. Understanding and appreciating your own balance is crucial for any top leader who wants to perform optimally over time, without compromising their own well-being or the organization’s long-term goals.


Coaching guides you on your journey

In periods of transition, the path ahead may seem unclear and challenging. Here coaching is an effective method to help you get through it well. A coach is a guide who can help you navigate successfully through the transformation into an executive leadership role. Choose a coach you trust, and who has the skills and experience to facilitate your personal and professional development. The coach can help you further develop your abilities to handle difficult dilemmas and reflect strategically and long-term.



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