I recently passed my 100-day mark as Lazada’s Data Science Lead. Through this period, it wasn’t always clear what to do, or how to do it, in my new leadership role. I had numerous questions about how to transition from an individual contributor to leader, how to lead former peers, etc.
Several mentors, books, and articles provided guidance on how to transition successfully. Looking back on these first 100 days, here’s some things I did that were helpful.
Shift in mindset
As an individual contributor, I had the opportunity, and was expected, to know my project inside out. I was deeply involved in the technicalities, writing code, measuring impact, and gained immense technical satisfaction from this depth. In contrast, as a leader, I was expected to know all of the team’s projects in significant, though not necessarily complete detail, and get involved when necessary. I had to learn how to switch contexts quickly, and be comfortable with not knowing all the nitty gritty details.
In addition, my new role meant my peers now reported to me. I was aware of the burdens of leadership, such as no longer being able to share information that I previously could as a peer. Mentors also warned that former peers might be less chummy with me, due to the new reporting relationship. Thus, I had to change my thinking on my relationships with the team—we might not remain as close as before and this is a natural given the new leadership role. One mentor suggested that I connect more with peers at my new level to get advice and build more relationships.