176. How to Advance as a Leader

About this Podcast

Ep. 176 – In this episode of The Manager Track Podcast, we will explore why investing in your leadership development is so crucial, the areas you should focus on developing, and some practical steps you can take to advance as a leader.

I will also give you a behind-the-scenes look at our Leadership Advisory Program, which is designed to help advancing leaders reach the next level in their careers.

Whether you’re interested in joining us when we launch again in October or simply looking for ways to grow as a leader on your own, this episode will provide you with valuable suggestions and a framework to guide your growth journey.

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Episode 176 Transcript:

Ramona Shaw [00:00:00]:

In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to advance as a leader. I’m going to answer three specific questions. One, why is it important that you invest in your leadership growth? Two, what areas do you need to develop? And three, how do I suggest to do it? Let’s dive in. Here’s the question. How do you successfully transition into your first official leadership role, build the confidence and competence to lead your team successfully and establish yourself as a respected and trusted leader across the organization? That’s the question, and this show provides the answers. Welcome to the Manager Track Podcast. I’m your host, Ramona Shaw, and I’m on a mission to create workplaces where work is not seen as a source of stress and dread, but as a source of contribution, connection, and fulfillment. And this transition starts with developing a new generation of leaders who know how to lead so everyone wins and grows.

Ramona Shaw [00:00:51]:

In the show. You’ll learn how to think, communicate, and act as the confident and competent leader you know you can be. Okay. Welcome to this episode of the Manager Track Podcast. I was thinking, as I was reflecting over the last couple of months, of what are some of the themes that came up in the coaching and conversations and the work that I did with clients that I want to bring back and talk about on the podcast. As I was doing so, I also recognized, like, hold on a second. There was one big milestone that we achieved in the last couple of months, which is we’ve completed the Leadership Advisory Program for the very first time. This is a program that we’ve created for advancing leaders.

Ramona Shaw [00:01:32]:

So people who are 510, maybe even 1520 years into their leadership career, but want to advance, they want to level up, they feel like it’s been a while since they’ve done any work around their leadership development. And that’s what we launched in this spring. And we’ve just completed our first Cohort with 14 leaders. And it was an amazing experience, really, really exciting and rewarding to see all the growth that happened during the course of the six months that we worked together as a group and individually. So I thought, hold on a second. Let me share with you my thinking of creating this program and how that I structured it and why I structured it this way. Now, yes, we will launch a second Cohort in October. It actually will launch October 23 for a new group who will then do this work together over the course of six months.

Ramona Shaw [00:02:23]:

And if you’re interested and you want to learn more, check the show notes and let’s chat. But I also want to share this with you. And anything that I do on the podcast is not to try to convince you to join a program or work with me directly, but to offer you suggestions that you can do on your own. Or you can say, no. I want to have help. And I want more guided support or more specific in depth training than what I could share here on the podcast. So I will go through this here in a way that allows you to recognize my thinking in how I structure the program. And if you don’t have the time or the resources to join the Leadership Advisory Program, look for ways that you can make this your own and the ways that you can integrate this into your professional development that you may take care of and you may think about on your own.

Ramona Shaw [00:03:14]:

So my goal for this episode is really to give you a bit of behind the scenes look of the work that I do and how we construct coaching programs and to share with you what you need to pay. Attention to if you want to advance as a leader and hopefully give you a bit of a framework to think about initiatives and goals that you can set to be strategic and be targeted on your growth journey. So, first question that I want to answer is why should you invest in leadership development? And that in itself could be a very long podcast. I’m going to summarize it here with a few sort of bullet points to consider. One of the biggest things that I always see and feel like we’re just not paying enough attention to is the fact that we’re spending so much time building technical skills or expertise in our field. Whether you are a teacher, you are a website designer, you are in the finance world, or you do something completely different. You learn on the job and through training how to do your job well. Then you move into a leadership role and it seems I already know how to do this job.

Ramona Shaw [00:04:24]:

And I’ve been in this field for so long now. It’s just a different perspective now. I’m just in a leadership role, but so what? And that is the biggest myth or misconception that will get in the way of people actually being good leaders. Because just as much as you invested in becoming strong on the technical side or on your job, the hard skills, if you used to say just as much of effort and thinking and investment should go into developing your leadership skills over ten years or so as you embark on that journey and beyond, by the way, it never really ends. But especially in the beginning, the skills required and the mindset shift needed in order to be a leader people love to work with do not come naturally. They will build slowly, if at all, on the job. And we’ve seen plenty of not so good at leaders or not ideal leadership to prove that point. There are a few really great leaders and they do stand out.

Ramona Shaw [00:05:26]:

They do advance way faster than others and their peers and the vast majority, if not all of them, deliberately and consciously invest in their leadership skills, that includes people skills. So how to manage performance management, coaching, feedback, how to delegate effectively. They think about time management and becoming really effective and what they prioritize and how they invest their time up sideways in the organization. They also think about communication skills and how to communicate effectively, when to communicate, how to communicate, how to change their communication style and approach depending on the audience that they’re with. They learn how to manage stakeholders really well. So they think about these topics and read books, listen to podcasts, they have coaches, they have mentors, they go into workshops and they have leadership development training and so forth on a regular basis in order to develop those skills just like they did with their heart skills, so to speak. Many people don’t do that and they think they’re going to learn on the job which if you have great role models or you’re naturally equipped, good for you. Most of us that will be a slow and likely very ineffective way of becoming a strong leader.

Ramona Shaw [00:06:38]:

So why should you invest in your leadership? Growth, in a very deliberate way is because you want to do it well and because you want to be effective in that process and on that journey, to not waste time or make mistakes and mistakes over and over. Where you’re losing and, eroding, trust, which can happen within seconds, or where you damage relationships, or where you build a reputation that’s not going to serve you well. And we all know now that especially on a difficult job market, people will talk. And if you’re in an industry where people know each other, they will make those reference calls or informal chats to find out what your reputation is before they hire you. And if your reputation isn’t strong, it’ll be much harder to find a job in the future. So these things really matter, not just in terms of job security, but really job advancement, salary increases, influence and impact that you have in your role. Very specifically. Now, the biggest areas where we slow ourselves down if we don’t intentionally spend time on leadership development is we don’t recognize our blind spots.

Ramona Shaw [00:07:41]:

They are called the blind spots because we’re blind to them. They’re the things that we think we’re really good or we’re doing really well that other people don’t find effective and we’re not seeing it. There may be biases that we have. We’re all influenced by tons of biases, cognitive biases that get in the way of our effectiveness. The point is not to try to not have any biases, our brains are wired that way. The point is to become conscious of our biases and then be able to interject and intervene when we’re about to display them so that we’re becoming a lot more objective. A very common one that comes top of mind right now is the confirmation bias where we may pay a lot more attention to information that confirms our original belief and our original view. So if we don’t have a sounding board, someone who’s reflecting back what kind of biases they observe, or we don’t expose ourselves to other people or conversations where we are confronted with our own biases, we’ll likely just continue with our biases.

Ramona Shaw [00:08:40]:

And there are the unconscious ones, the unaware ones, since they’re unaware and unconscious, we’re also unable to interject, right, because we don’t know about them. So biases blind spots, patterns that we build, that we don’t even recognize that they’re patterns or habits usually also the box, the thinking. I recently recorded a podcast on dual models for leaders. This black and white thinking that we may have it may also be one of the common issues that we see in leadership is we think that especially early on when you have limited leadership, exposure or experience, is that we think everyone wants to be led the way that we like to be led. Not true. There’s a lot of people who don’t like to be led the way that you want to be led. So you have to adapt and become really flexible in your leadership style and approach. So removing the boxes by, again, seeing, oh, there’s different paths, there’s different ways.

Ramona Shaw [00:09:30]:

I often talk to my clients about building range and options so that in any given situation and the people that you lead, you have more than just one go to tool you have now options. You may have three to four approaches that you’re familiar with and you can try in order to see what works best. And then also just feed the brain with information. If you are trying to learn how to, let’s say, play chess, you will naturally learn to play chess better. If you watch chess games, if you play chess games, if you read books about chess, if you watch YouTube videos or so forth about strategies or these reviews of games, you are feeding your brain with information about chess that will make you better. Or you might have conversations about chess with your chess buddies. Similar with leadership, the more you’re exposed to conversations around leadership, the better you will get. In addition to, of course, applying it, but applying it alone will be to slow this nail track.

Ramona Shaw [00:10:28]:

We don’t want that. Again, everything that I just said is like any other skill. The same things apply for leadership as well. When we look at research here, and I just picked up one, there’s tons of research out there that would show you numbers in terms of effectiveness and productivity that increases. The one that I picked up and want to share here is by DDI. They said that companies who have implemented effective leadership development programs see a productivity gain of 36% and work quality increases by 48% plus. There’s an additional benefit. Not only will you become more productive and your work product, your effectiveness will increase.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:04]:

You’re also becoming a role model to the rest of your team on how to grow. Invest in your skills, the vulnerability aspect of having goals, personal or professional goals, and working on them, the way that you demonstrate soliciting feedback and how you respond to feedback. Those are all ways that you role model strong and effective behavior that will not only make you stronger, but also make your team stronger and grow alongside. There’s this famous saying when the leader grows, everyone grows. And I believe that to be true. When the leader grows, everyone grows. So your growth will influence the growth of your team, which again, makes the whole equation even stronger. Okay, so that is the why.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:45]:

That is the answer to the why question. Now, I’m going to switch into the second one. As a caring and driven manager, I know you want to strengthen your leadership skills, advance your career, and lead a high performing, engaged team. And in order to do that, as a leader, you need to lead with a system, not by shooting from your hips or reacting to everyone else around you. To do so, you need to first, learn what should go into a leadership system, and second, develop your own. Now, the good news is that I teach you. One must have part in your leadership system in a concise, actionable and yet comprehensive course focused on running successful oneonone meetings with your direct reports. It includes over 67 minutes of Tactical Leadership Training, plus a set of resources to make this as easy and immediately applicable for you as possible.

Ramona Shaw [00:12:40]:

You can either watch the video lessons or listen to it through a private podcast feed on your phone. You can get your hands on this course, which I want every single manager to have for a nominal $19 at Ramonashaw.com One. One. That’s two times the number one. You can check the show notes for the details or head on over to Ramonashaw.com Eleven to get started right now. So what should you actually pay attention to? And this is where the Leadership Advisory Program comes into play. So when I decided to build a second program on top of our very first program for new managers the leadership Accelerator, which we’ve now successfully run for years to offer a successor program to the graduates or to other clients who are more advanced and have leadership experience but want to get to that next level or just want to be fueled by new ideas and become more effective. When we decided to do that, I spent quite a bit of time and experimented with different frameworks to figure out what will work best at that level.

Ramona Shaw [00:13:47]:

Now, from a content perspective, the Leadership Advisor program covers four pillars. And as you’re thinking about your own leadership development, I also encourage you to think about these four pillars. One is self leadership. So how do you manage yourself? Your time, your priorities, your stress, your emotional management, your learning? Like the reflection and feedback that you seek and so forth. Self leadership. The second pillar is about leading a person. So the direct relationship between a direct report and you from the interview on until offboarding, that’s the entire life cycle. What are your models and frameworks? What’s your philosophy for interviewing? What are the tools and ideas on how to onboard effectively? How do you performance, manage and lead a direct report? How do you manage them, including career conversations, one on one meetings, goal setting, delegating feedback, coaching, all of that.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:45]:

And then the third aspect, the third pillar is around managing a team, especially advancing leaders who have growing teams often and people who have jobs and do things that you as a leader may have no knowledge about, right? So you’re leading someone with higher subject matter expertise. How do you manage that on a team level? How do you create connection on a team? How do you create a team spirit where people actually feel like I’m not an individual, even if remote or hybrid, we are a team. How do you do that? And then the fourth aspect is managing up and across. And we call this in the Leadership Advisory program their relationship operating system. So how do you build and cultivate relationships? How do you influence, how do you manage your stakeholders? How do you communicate across the different hierarchies effectively? So these are the four pillars. And if you think about each of them, what is a goal that you have in each pillar? How are you going to achieve that goal? What could get in the way and what kind of resources do you need? I would invite you to ask yourself for the four different pillars that we just talked about. What’s your goal? How are you going to get there? What could get in the way and what resources do you need? Now, last but not least, we want to talk about the question of the how. So how do you actually grow as a leader? What are the specific tools or formats to do it as well? I strongly believe that this is the most effective approach to leadership development.

Ramona Shaw [00:16:08]:

It’s the combination of three different formats. First, it’s knowledge transfer. Second, it’s personalized coaching and support. And third, it’s social learning. So let me break these three formats down one by one. One of them is actual knowledge transfer. So, best practices, principles, ideas, frameworks, tools that will demonstrate, for example, how to make decisions effectively or how to strengthen your ability to manage stakeholders. What are the do’s and the don’ts? It could also be around the topic of managing your emotions.

Ramona Shaw [00:16:47]:

So what are the frameworks to keep in mind or the tools to help you manage your emotions better and strengthen your self confidence, for example, or release frustration or fear and anger to be more effective and less emotionally driven, more logical and composed in your job. Those are all tools. And that is a very important component because most of you, the chances that you are not in the field of leadership development is very high when you join a leadership development program. So the knowledge transfer is that first important component that is required for a leadership development program. Now, the second one is the personalized coaching. And this is where I have a lot of pride and conviction on, is that I believe that the personalized aspect is key not just for knowledge retention, but also to help turn that knowing into the doing. It’s like reading a book and you think, oh, this is great. Makes total sense.

Ramona Shaw [00:17:41]:

And then you sit down, you think, I don’t even know where to begin to make that mind and to actually change a behavior or do something with this information that I just read in the book. The reason why this is so hard to do from books or even podcasts or YouTube videos or LinkedIn learning courses is because it’s not personalized. There’s no one there who says, okay, here’s how I see this for you. Or tell me how you think about integrating this and then let’s fine tune it. Let me help you think through this and then integrate it. And we’ll check back in of what’s working, what isn’t working, and pivot and adapt that isn’t happening. So it’s a lot harder to make the knowledge and turn that knowledge into application. So the personalized coaching and support the third one is the social learning aspect.

Ramona Shaw [00:18:22]:

Even as I review the feedback from the Leadership Advisory program, the Cohort, it’s so interesting to see how many people really underestimate the benefits that come from having a group conversation in addition to the other components. To talk through lessons learned, to talk through different perspectives, to listen to questions other people have, or even to observe how I coach them in a situation and learn through observation. This is a component that we both have in the Leadership Advisory program and in the Leadership Accelerator program for new managers and across the board in all the feedback that we consistently collect from all participants. That is one of the parts that is most surprising to most people and how much they actually benefit and joy that environment. I’m sharing these three parts with you because on one hand, again, I’ll give you a bit of the behind the scenes of how we’re structuring the Leadership Advisory program. But also if you’re thinking about how could you specifically learn and grow? Even if you’re not joining a program like the Leadership Advisory, then think about where do I gather new knowledge? Right? What’s the source for that? Who can I talk this through with? Like, if I take notes and ideas and write them down, is my boss, my superior, or a friend or a peer or a partner, a coworker or a mentor going to help me turn that information into application? And then the third part is find a group of people in the similar field association or some kind of like online group or whatever that might be, they don’t cost a lot. There’s some options out there where you can gather into peer circles or peer groups and converse. I bet that even if you are more introverted or don’t like a group so much, I would give it a shot.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:05]:

I just give it a try, see what you gain from it, experiment with it. That I would highly recommend. So these are the three aspects. So we’ve talked about why, we talked about what with the four pillars and then we talked about how with the three aspects or the three different formats in order to make your own initiatives or a program really effective. Now, when you do this in an accelerated, well structured and well designed and executed way like the Leadership Advisory Program, here are some of the benefits. And I’m reading this of my notes from feedback from our last cohort in the advisory program. Things you can expect. The things that may happen is a complete mental shift in how I empower my team from Delegating while still holding ownership, to fully empowering the team which has helped them grow and has helped me as the leader or the client here gain a lot more time back that I could use on higher level, more strategic tasks, finding new ways to connect with the team and feel like an actual team.

Ramona Shaw [00:21:06]:

Especially this comes from a person who works remote and has a remote team. The ability to create that sense of team belonging and safety on the team was a benefit. Another person said I learn how to speak up more and do so with conviction. I am way more engaged in leadership meetings and bringing my opinions or giving voice to my opinions or speaking up if I disagree with a suggestion or I can challenge other people’s suggestions more effectively. Another one was feeling less frustrated, not feeling as stressed anymore because of their ability to manage their own expectations, their emotions day in and day out and understand where they’re coming from and how to intervene if they wanted to intervene. So that awareness and then the ability to manage emotions. Someone else said I became a lot more effective engaging my stakeholders and influencing them, keeping them posted, informing them with very deliberate practices and routines that created stronger relationships and increased trust. And then someone else said I became more strategic with my time and I see an increase in progress on the important tasks versus just a task that I had to do but someone else could be doing.

Ramona Shaw [00:22:17]:

I’m now spending a lot more time on the things that only I can do and are the important strategic tasks. So these are some of the benefits that can come out of the program. These are just examples, but investing in your leadership growth and doing this in a very deliberate way can again change the way that your team feels about growth, will definitely increase your effectiveness as a leader and likely make you a lot more productive as well. Those are the things that will build trust with others. You strengthen your reputation. You’ll have people who want to work with you and love being led by you or on your team. They may even follow you to other organizations. They are happier at work.

Ramona Shaw [00:22:58]:

You’ll feel likely more fulfilled and more aligned with what kind of leader that you are. Plus, it’s also just stimulating to learn and see yourself from different sides and using different tools and immediately seeing the benefits and the payoff of doing the work and experimenting with new ideas. So that’s what I wanted to share about how to advance as a leader. If you do want to learn more about the Leadership Advisory Program, check the Show notes again. We’re going to start with our next Cohort on October 23, but we will close the application process before that. If you’re interested, have a look at the document, the brochure, and if you like it, click the link that says Schedule a Free Strategy Call. In that call, we’ll talk about what specifically you’re looking to grow and learn, what are the challenges in front of you and the opportunities, the goals that you have and pursue to make sure that this program is actually the right fit. We’ll then define which tier of the program there’s different tiers will be right for you.

Ramona Shaw [00:23:55]:

And if I think the program will help you and that you’re a right fit for this group, then we will proceed with the registration process and you’ll be all set for a October 23 start date. If you don’t want to participate in a program like this again, I do encourage you to think about and deliberately reflect on your leadership development in those four pillars. What are your goals in the way that you consume information or apply what you learned? What is your process? What is your approach to do this in a way like you would learn any other skill that matters to you and that you want to get better at? Good. With that all said, I’m going to wrap it up. I hope this was helpful in the bit of the behind the scenes approach to how we structure programs and why and how I think about leadership development. Again, if this resonated with you, I’d love to chat with you. Click the links in the Show Notes to schedule a call. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week, another episode of the Managed Track podcast.

Ramona Shaw [00:24:51]:

Bye for now. If you enjoyed this episode, then check out two other awesome resources to help you become a leader people love to work with. This includes my best selling book, The Confident and Competent New Manager, which you can find on Amazon or@ramonashaw.com Slash Book, and a free training on how to successfully lead as a new manager. You can check it out@ramonashaw.com. Slash masterclass these resources and a couple more you’ll find in the show notes down below.

Reflection and Discussion Questions

Reflection & Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is it important for leaders to invest in their leadership growth?
  2. How does investing in leadership development contribute to job advancement and salary increases?
  3. What are some potential consequences of neglecting your leadership development?
  4. How can you recognize and address your blind spots?
  5. What role does ongoing leadership development play in creating fulfilling work environments?

Resources mentioned


Grab your copy of Ramona’s best-selling new book ‘The Confident & Competent New Manager: How to Rapidly Rise to Success in Your First Leadership Role’: amzn.to/3TuOdcP

If this episode inspired you in some way, take a screenshot of you listening on your device and post it to your Instagram Stories, and tag me @ramona.shaw.leadership or DM me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ramona-shaw

Are you in your first manager role and don’t want to mess it up? Watch our FREE Masterclass and discover the 4 shifts to become a leader people love to work for: ramonashaw.com/masterclass

Don’t forget to invest time each week to increase your self-awareness, celebrate your wins, and learn from your mistakes. Your career grows only to the extent that you grow. Grab your Career Journal with leadership exercises and weekly reflections here: ramonashaw.com/shop

Love the podcast and haven’t left a review yet? All you have to do is go to ramonashaw.com/itunes and give your honest review. Thanks for your support of this show!

* Disclaimer: Shownotes may contain affiliate links. That means that I am awarded a small commission for purchases made through them, at no added cost to you.


00:00 – Introduction to advancing as a leader.

01:00 – Reflecting on recent coaching and the completion of the leadership advisory program.

02:30 – The structure and thought process behind creating the leadership advisory program.

04:00 – Importance of investing in leadership development.

07:30 – Key areas of focus in leadership development.

13:00 – Introduction to the Leadership Advisory Program.

14:00 – The four pillars of leadership: self-leadership, leading a person, managing a team, and managing up and across.

16:00 – The three formats for leadership development: knowledge transfer, personalized coaching, and social learning.

20:30 – Benefits of the Leadership Advisory Program.

23:30 – Invitation to learn more about the program and next steps.

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