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How to Successfully Transition Into A New Leadership Role

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How to Successfully Transition Into A New Leadership Role
This is bigger than a 90-Day plan. Whether you’re a brand new leader, or simply taking on a new leadership role, here’s what you need to do (and not do) to set yourself up for success.

When was the last time you were excited and scared at the same time?

For me, it was on Saturday morning when I signed up for a mini-triathlon. For a gal who can’t swim and hasn’t run since last summer, I was excited at the idea of working towards a fitness goal, yet also terrified by the perceived mountain I was about to climb.

And the minute I noticed that mix of fear and excitement, I knew I had to slow down and get strategic.

To be honest, I don’t love excitement as an emotion…and here’s why… to me, it has the same sort of frenetic energy as fear. That’s why they often show up together.

To me, excitement is fear in a slightly better outfit.

And together, those two emotions make you do crazy, impulsive, overly dramatic actions; like buying all new fitness gear you don’t need, and setting up a fitness regimen designed to burn you out in the first week.

I find this happens a lot with my clients who start a new leadership role. You’re super excited for the opportunity. And you’re also completely terrified you’ll blow it.

So what do you do?

You dive in head-first, working all the hours and doing all the things just so you can prove that you’re worthy of the opportunity you already got.

The “proving yourself” mindset always leads to burnout and bad leadership.

Instead, I want to offer anyone transitioning into a new leadership role to slow down and have a strategy (this also works for people who just want to up their leadership game).

And I’m not talking about a 90-Day plan. 90 Day plans are about WHAT you need to do.

If you want a well-rounded strategy for success in your new role, I recommend you first focus on WHO… WHO do you want to become in this new role?

If you projected yourself 12 months into the future, what kind of leader will you have become?

Here are 4 aspirational leadership identities to help shape what kind of leader you decide to become.

#1: I drive results by helping people think
How to Successfully Transition Into A New Leadership Role

As a leader, your job is to deliver results… but there are a lot of ways to do that.

I’ve worked for everyone from the completely hands-off leaders to the bully to the micromanager (and admittedly, I’ve fallen into some of those categories on occasion).

But the leader people like working for the most is the leader who makes you smarter.

I want to offer that your job as a leader is not to know more than your people, or have all the answers or tell everyone what to do.

Your job as a leader is to make your people smarter by teaching them to think critically. That’s how you effectively drive results.

How would you reprioritize your day if you believed your #1 job was to help people think?

#2: I separate my work from my worth

In my opinion, this is the most important skill of the bunch.

There’s a difference between you being good at your job, and you being a good person. One is focused on the process. The other is focused on the person.

But isn’t it funny (funny strange) how often you connect your personal value to how well you do your job?

Disconnecting your work from your worth will make you a powerful leader, who worries less and is willing to push the envelope to drive results.


Because your personal value is no longer on the line every time something goes sideways.

What a relief!

Now, you can make a bad call and it doesn’t have to mean something is wrong with you. You will simply learn from it and fix it because that’s what you’ve always done.

#3: I can work effectively with anyone.

Do you know that person who always tells you why something won’t work? Or the person who drops surprise bombs on you in meetings? Or the person who likes to take credit for your team’s work?

I want you to imagine yourself as a leader who doesn’t have a problem working with any of them.

You may not agree with their style or approach, BUT you understand it’s about them and not you. So you don’t let it cloud your focus because no matter what they do. You become a leader who knows how to inspire each of them to get the results you’re looking for.

What could you do in a workday if that was true?

And this isn’t an all-or-nothing scenario… you don’t have to be like this 100% of the time. But what if you were like this 50% more than you are right now?

What would that allow you to do as a leader?

#4: I naturally advocate for the work of me and my team

If you’re doing your job as a leader, your people are the ones who shine. You’re not the center of attention anymore.

And since everyone has a million things on their plate, you’re going to have to help people notice your impact on the business by creating a self-advocacy strategy.

Now most people don’t want to do this (which itself is a reason you should).

Without exception, when I first meet people, they aren’t prioritizing self-advocacy. Why? Because they think it’s slimy, fake and arrogant.

It’s not that they don’t think it’s important. They just can’t think of a way to do it naturally, easily and consistently.

But just because you can’t think of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are people who do it well, but you don’t notice it because it doesn’t feel slimy or fake.

By becoming a leader who naturally advocates for themselves (and their team), you control your own narrative, you get noticed more and ultimately have more opportunities come your way.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Trying to prove yourself when you start a new role, especially as a leader, only leads to burnout and over-dramatic behavior. Most 90 Day plans are a list of things you want to get done… not who you intend to be in the role.

Instead of trying to be everything to everybody, focus on specifically WHO you want to be as a leader and focus on practicing those behaviors. And if the 4 leadership identities I’m offering aren’t the ones for you, no problem. Pick ones that do work for you.


I have 20+ years working as a leader in the corporate world. I know what you need to do. And I combine that with four years of training as a cognitive behavioral coach. I know how to help you naturally think like the leader you want to be.

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