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Mastering the transition: How to excel in a new senior leadership role

Stepping into a senior leadership role can be both exciting and overwhelming, with high expectations and a challenging path ahead. Panchalee Weeratammawat, Chief People Officer at Central Retail Corporation, offers valuable strategies for overcoming obstacles and finding success in a leadership role. With a passion for driving impactful change, Panchalee has successfully transformed HR from an administrative function into a strategic partner across multiple organisations. At Central Retail, she places a strong emphasis on excellence, empowerment, and sustainable growth, ensuring the company remains competitive and adaptable in the dynamic retail industry.

Panchalee Weeratammawat, Chief People Officer, Central Retail Corporation

Keys to a successful transition into a new role

Taking on a senior leadership role presents challenges for everyone, according to Panchalee, with one major hurdle being the prevailing mindset among leaders. These leaders often focused solely on achieving business results, neglecting the human aspect, and undervaluing the contributions of HR. As a woman in a C-level position, Panchalee was determined to change this perception and ensure that HR played a vital role in decision-making. To address this, Panchalee recognised the significance of equipping the HR team with the essential skills, competencies, and resources to effectively contribute to the organisation's goals. She prioritised empowering her team to think strategically, identify improvement opportunities, and measure the impact of their initiatives.

During her initial months with the organisation, Panchalee focused on gaining a comprehensive understanding. She conducted organisational diagnostics, including 360-degree assessments with stakeholders at various levels, which provided valuable feedback and insights. Panchalee also immersed herself in the workplace culture, observing and experiencing it firsthand.

Through this process, Panchalee gained a holistic understanding of the organisation, including its strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement. This knowledge enabled her to make well-informed decisions and develop people strategies that closely aligned with the organisation's objectives and values.

The power of authenticity, approachability, and effective communication

While making a positive first impression on the leadership team was important, Panchalee did not exclusively focus on it. Instead, she placed a higher value on authenticity and humility during the initial days, viewing it as a valuable learning opportunity to absorb information and gain a profound understanding of the business and its operations.

Panchalee shares, “Instead of showcasing my knowledge or experience, I prioritised active listening and engagement with the team. I believed that being receptive to their insights and perspectives is crucial in fostering an open culture and tapping into the collective expertise of the leadership team.” In essence, Panchalee’s goal is to be genuine and approachable, ensuring her leadership style aligns with the organisation's values.

Additionally, effective communication skills are crucial in a leadership role as they bring together various aspects of an organisation.

A leader must be caring, genuine, approachable, and have the ability to communicate effectively. 

This involves implementing a comprehensive communication strategy that considers the specific needs of different stakeholders.

By doing so, a leader can foster collaboration, understanding, and alignment among team members, enabling them to work towards shared goals. Effective communication also requires mastering the art of influence and negotiation, presenting well-structured arguments, aligning strategies with organisational goals, skillfully navigating complex discussions, and having supporting facts available.

Embrace the journey and navigate senior leadership roles with confidence

Entering senior leadership positions means stepping into a more demanding environment. The expectations not only increase but also change. It's no longer just about advancing your career; it's about venturing into unexplored territories. Ambition can guide you, but strategic insight is crucial for success. Moreover, for women in leadership, navigating a male-dominated executive landscape requires a delicate balance of firmness and modesty. While the gender disparity in C-level positions is evident, women must assert their unique perspectives effectively. Respect in these environments is earned through valuable contributions and genuine skills, not through showiness. Women leaders should neither feel intimidated nor overly confident; instead, they should be courageous and speak their minds, letting their expertise and experience speak for themselves.

“Transitioning into senior leadership requires balancing confidence and adaptability. Embrace each day as an opportunity for growth, acknowledging there is always more to learn. Display self-assurance, but remain curious and humble, maintaining an open mind in the face of new challenges,” Panchalee concludes. 

Download our e-guide 'How to succeed in a new senior leadership role' and gain insights from global senior business leaders on their experiences and strategies for transitioning into new roles.

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