Leadership clinic: How do I decide what matters?

Karen Blackett OBE, UK country manager of WPP, Group M UK CEO and a former MT 35 Under 35 winner, answers questions on navigating the tricky world of corporate leadership.

by Karen Blackett

Question: I’ve just taken on my first leadership position. There are so many competing demands and, because I’m new to the role, I’m finding it hard to work out what matters and what doesn’t. It’s quite overwhelming. How do you work out where to focus your time and energy to make the biggest impact? How do I set sustainable working patterns without looking incompetent? And how can I quickly prove to my boss that she made the right choice, without burning out?

Karen Blackett says:

I understand you want to make your mark and start delivering value back to the business quickly, but we need you to be effective, feel in control and not overwhelmed. Here are a few tips I hope help.

Your boss is your sponsor. When you start a new role, we often find ourselves living in what psychologists call “the learning dip”. Feel reassured it’s a common-sense fact that during the period when you are learning something new, your performance dips – which affects your confidence. Over time, as you get more experience, your performance rises again. Your boss made the decision to promote you and she will want you to succeed in the new role. A regular check-in to bounce things off her is good practice. Use her as a sounding board and wise counsel.

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