Congratulations! You‘ve just been promoted and got that challenging new role. You’re riding high on euphoria and congratulations as you start to get to grips with it. Then the scale of the challenge hits you.

Expectations are everywhere, from your boss, your new direct reports, some of whom may have expected to be in your shoes, new peers and the new stakeholders. Then if all this isn’t enough, there are the expectations you put on yourself.

In a supreme effort to meet all these, many people try frantically to become the previous incumbent, only better. They pile straight in, putting in long hours to absorb all the specialist knowledge and deal with urgent demands left hanging over. They get lost in the culture, the system and processes and sometimes literally lost in their new building. They go to bed with their head crammed and wake up feeling as if they are drowning.  Sounds familiar?

How do you carve out time in a packed schedule to do the things that really matter and set expectations rather than being driven by them?  Wily CEOs know that the first 100 days in any new job should be spent watching & listening before acting but this is a luxury few of us have.  So, what can you do?

The first thing is to recognise what is happening to you.  Stop. Notice how your body is.  Where is your breath?  Is it in your chest rather than your diaphragm?

  1. Take a couple of deep breaths wherever you are and adopt this mind-space rescue package.
  2. Put work away on the journey home. Reflect on what you want to achieve, not goals and KPIs but rather why have you taken on this role? What and who do you want to serve and why?
  3. Take 15 minutes to walk round the block a few times – walking is great to process how you want to ‘be’ in your new role. Remind yourself of the values and strengths that have sustained you so far and how they can apply to your new challenges. Write them down.
  4. Now you know your purpose and who you are in this role, create and craft your new identity story for the people who need to trust you. Rehearse it in your mind and then out loud when and where you can – it’s like a new coat it needs wearing in.

Do this on a regular basis and you will be back on ‘dry land’. You will start to feel more comfortable owning your new role and able to start setting expectations of what you can achieve short and longer term, rather than being driven by other people’s.


Sheila Hirst MA Coaching & Mentoring Practice

Sheila has extensive experience coaching executives in how to be fully authentic in their roles releasing their energy and creativity.  She specialises in supporting clients through transitions –developing the confidence to step up to a new role and fully connect with all their stakeholders as they tackle their new challenges.