I thought I was ready when I took on my first ‘official’ management role as a performance manager. I had technical ability. I’d undertaken a large amount of additional, unpaid supervisory work. On top of that, I had a great professional attitude so I thought I was good to go.
If you’re a new manager, some of the lessons that I and countless other leaders have learned will, hopefully, help you to transition into a management and leadership role in a more authentic way.
1. Prioritize being the leader your team needs, rather than doing everything perfectly.
Chances are you’re a conscientious woman with high standards so you don’t need to stress about being “seen” to be doing a good job; that’s a given. It’s better to learn what your team needs from you, rather than focusing on checking off every box to perfection. Spend time with your new colleagues, get to know them and find out what they need most from you while you learn more about the role.
2. If change is needed, get gutsy.
You’ll need to develop the confidence to challenge the status quo, which takes guts. If you want a lot of change to happen as a new leader, remember that you are managing a group of people you have only just met. Take changes slow and don’t plan to implement your dream organization in just the next 90 days. Learn and listen as much as you can.
3. Overstand your values.
Yes, I said overstand. It’s one thing to be aware of your own values; it’s quite another to understand how your values serve you and influence the way in which you lead. The best leaders have a high level of self-awareness. Check out this article for more on understanding your values. If you’re not already, spend time getting get clear on your values.
4. Start reflecting.
There will be days when you feel more like an infant school teacher than a manager. There will be days when you feel on top of the world because things are going so well. Spend time reflecting on your day and ask yourself what you did that was good and should be repeated. Also, reflect daily on what wasn’t so great. How can you do things differently next time? Reflecting like this helps improve your practice as a leader and is a pretty good de-stresser, too!
5. Don’t switch your persona.
Pretending to be someone you’re not is hard work and tiring. If you’re not a suit woman, don’t go for a power suit just because you’re now in a leadership role. If you’re a soft-natured person, don’t try to come across as hard-nosed just because you are in a leadership role. People will see straight through you and inconsistencies in the way you treat and lead will cause others to doubt your credibility. Do you, boo.
6. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Being honest about what you’re not sure of can help your new team connect with you as another human being. Being vulnerable will allow them to see you as more than just ‘the new boss.’ If they can see that you are ok with your imperfections and limitations, they can relate to you and come alongside you much faster. It will also be freeing for you to release the pressure that striving for perfection creates.
7. Don’t pretend you have all the answers.
It’s not your job to know everything, it’s your job to facilitate your team in coming up with solutions and support staff so that they can do their job. This is crucial to understand.
8. You will make mistakes.
Get comfortable with the fact that things won’t always go to plan and that’s ok. You’ll learn for the next time.
9. Being liked as a manager is underrated.
Yes, it’s true that staff need to respect you but being respected and being liked don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s a lot easier and more enjoyable for everyone when you’re likable.
10. Boy, is leadership great for your growth!
Don’t compartmentalize your learning. Growth is growth so be intentional with transferring the development in your professional life to your personal development. A year from now, you’ll have grown immensely through your leadership experiences so soak it up, my dear!
What’s your leadership experience been? What do you wish you’d been told earlier on? Let me know in the comments below.
- 10 Things Nobody Tells You When You’re a New Manager - June 7, 2016