The day I turned 18, I sat my driver’s licence. It was a manual car (think gears and three pedals) and I just scraped in with a score of 70%. 69% was a fail.

I had spent so much of my own money on driving lessons, earned working part time and full time, and I was unbelievably nervous. The fear of failing, coupled with having an assessor sitting behind me in the car and the trepidation that my driving instructor would break the cellophane paper covering his pedals to save us from an impending accident – was all too much.

Even with years of experience as a passenger, being in the car with my parents, family and friends, the responsibility of becoming the car driver, was a major shift. It came with responsibilities including holding onto the wheel (not a phone) remembering gear changes, road signs, road rules and holding a conversation with a passenger.

This is not me!

This is not me!

The word leadership, like driving, is bandied around like it’s an item you select in a vending machine. Good leadership and good driving are what we expect. However, it’s a skill which we need to practise, enabling us to be capable … without consciously thinking about what we’re doing.

Imagine if you were road tested for leadership.

Would you pass?

Would you be granted the ‘leadership ready’ badge?

Practising the practice of leadership, every day, enables you to be ready for the practical test – being the team leader, manager, director or CEO. Overnight Leadership is about becoming responsible for other people – direct reports, your team. It’s about role-modelling what you expect, it’s about treating people as adults and inspiring them to follow you as you influence the change you’re seeking.


team leader badge image.jpg

Waking up, with your new ‘team leader’ lanyard swinging from your neck, may not be an image etched in your mind.

Being ‘Engineer of the Year’ or the Top Salesperson, is what you had in mind. However, because of your technical expertise, you’ve been rewarded with, the Team Leader role.

Sound familiar?


Being ‘leadership ready’ means preparing and practising, well before the time arrives.

Too often, I hear stories of businesses promoting their top technical expert (irrespective of sector/industry/gender/age) into team leader roles with zero or limited development let alone notice of this transformational change in their role in an organisation.

 Let’s change up this practice and enable the expert to acquire rather than exchange their trade tools for leadership tools. How about we provide the leadership development, whether that be with a Mentor, coach or as a participant in a leadership program.

 A new leader or a leader of a new team needs to know from Day One, how to offer value to the team, focusing on unlocking their potential and fast tracking relationships.


If the opportunity has been mooted with you about taking on a leadership role, then Today is your day to prepare, practise, and imagine you’re in your team leader’s shoes.

If you’re a seasoned leader, now is the time to audit your leadership. Leadership in 2015 has progressed to new expectations in 2020.

 In addition to stepping into the requirements and expectations of leadership accompanies a continuum of emotions. Some might find it daunting with a feeling of anxiousness whilst others are up for the challenge and feel excitement.


Many of us have heard and read the statistics associated with ‘people leaving their Boss, not their Job’; don’t be this statistic, rather proactively become the leader with responsibilities, rules and awareness of what’s expected in the role. Whilst we can’t transform overnight, we can start learning now with a plan of attack.


Firstly, consider this initial list of Leadership Factors. How would you fair in this assessment:


1.    Behaviour

Being consistent in how you behave provides predictability and reassurance for your team and other relationships. Knowledge is power for people. Knowing what to expect develops respect. When a relationship is respected the goal can be achieved - Trust.

People can’t read your intent, values, attitude and beliefs – therefore your behaviour helps convey your leadership.


Do people know what to expect when they work with you?


2.      Change

As a leader, you’re expecting change every day. Improvements, effectiveness, time efficiencies and increased performance. Your engagement and how you help people through change is a sign of your leadership effectiveness. We generally know that people don’t like change – however what they react to is having the change imposed on them. Involving people in the change, gives them ownership and the opportunity to respond with accountability.


Do people say you react or respond to change?


3.    Communication

Your communication toolbox must be current, accessible and full. Sharing stories, asking questions, listening, hosting effective meetings and having tough conversations are some of the tools you need sharpened to influence and inspire people.


Which communication skill do you need to improve?

4.    Conflict

The ability to avoid pushing people into conflict, rather, keeping them engaged and connected to their motives, is critical in your role. It’s a challenging component of leadership, often avoided and a common cause of team ineffectiveness.

Do you move towards or away from conflict?


5.    Feedback

Seeking information about your behaviour and actions, with the intent to confirm, change, adapt or improve is vital to make feedback a norm in your team. Asking for feedback generates a permission to welcome and give frequent feedback.


Which feedback model do you use to help you effectively provide feedback?



Your first 20 Days (month) set the foundation of leading resilient relationships in your leadership practice.

If you woke up to your first day as team leader – what would be on your mind?

Here’s a recommendation for your first day based on my experience and that of my many clients who have experimented with their leadership.



Day One:


·       Today is all about asking questions and listening. How will you take notes?

·       Use affirmations to take charge of your-self talk and set yourself up for a positive experience.

·       If you have been promoted within the same company/business/team, then it’s about establishing a new type of relationship – you are no longer mates/friends/peers - you have a ‘leader & team leader’ relationship to shape which requires a new mindset – a growth mindset will set you up to be in a learning mode rather than a knowing mode.


1.      Remember the names of the people I meet.

2.      Meet my team face-to-face or virtually.

3.      Meet my manager and peers.


1.      Tell me, what’s your story and what’s important for you?

2.      What’s happening in your role?

3.      How do you see the business operating?

4.      What do I need to know about my role?


·       Anxiety, nervousness, vulnerability – these may be new, but it’s normal that you feel this way when stepping into unknown territory

·       Excitement, confidence, curiosity – you’re prepared and it’s important to listen and learn


·       Your box of personal goodies for your desk.

·       Where you’ll be sitting.

·       Where you park your car.

·       Your ego! Leave it at home.


Create a spreadsheet using the details you glean about the people you meet during your first day: their names, key role, where they sit, when they need to meet you, their partner’s name, children’s names and any information to support your relationship development with each person in your team/organisation.


One day, you’ll wake up responsible for a group of people. Be prepared, rather than surprised. Start working on your Overnight Leadership Plan and be Leadership Ready.  Follow my 19 days during November to build a solid leadership foundation.

 Or contact me to receive more details about my Overnight Leadership Program.

Connect with Louise Thomson