So, you’re a leader…
You’ve reached that impossible pinnacle for most people. You’ve reached a level that most people just dream about or envy. But you know, it’s not meant for everyone.
But for those who want it and make it work, it can be very rewarding.
One of the problems for a lot of new leaders is that they think that if they set a few goals it’s going to come easily – and quickly. Sorry. Wrong. It takes time, focus, motivation, and yes, even dreams.
Unfortunately a large majority of people who are promoted into a supervisory position or hired into one without any previous experience are inadequately prepared. There’s a transition period from worker to supervisor that presents any number of problems.
You’re going to make mistakes. Hear that? You’re – going – to – make – mistakes.
That’s nature’s way of saying, “you’re learning.” Thomas Edison (light bulb) once said that it takes 10,000 mistakes to find an answer.
5 Transitional Mistakes
So how do you make that transition? A great way to start is to become aware of and work toward avoiding the most common mistakes.
Five of the most common traps that new leaders fall into are:
1) Not making the transition from worker to leader
When you’re a worker, you’re ultimately responsible only for the work that you do. Now, as a leader, you’re responsible for the work of a team. You need a whole new set of business skills AND people skills. Some of the most talented employees from technical backgrounds become the worst leaders because they can’t make the transition from worker to leader. Their focus is too one-sided.
2) Not setting clear goals and expectations
Without goals and expectations, you’re dead in the water. Staff will have no direction, challenge, or motivation. Solidify the vision and goals of the organization and yourself. Help them help you, by setting goals and working with them to achieve those goals.
3) Failing to delegate
YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF – say it out loud. The idea of delegating is to multiply the amount of work that can be done. A new large project that seems impossible to accomplish will suddenly become very workable with a few people working on different aspects. At the same time, you’re going to be (unknowingly to them) creating opportunities for your team members to develop their own work and leadership skills.
4) Failing to communicate
Yes, information is power. Don’t use it by controlling it in order to ensure that you’re the most knowledgeable and therefore the most valuable. Your staff won’t have a clue about what’s going on which will lead to YOUR downfall. COLLECTIVE knowledge is power. The more you can share, the more productive staff will be and the better attitude they’ll have. Staff must have information so they can make the best decisions at the lowest possible level, quickly.
5) Failing to learn
Don’t fall victim to the “now I can do things my way” attitude. Vision and goals are very important, but you have to be open to change as the technology and environment changes around you. You must constantly learn new ways, experiment, and try new methods. If you don’t, you’ll be doomed to being that irrelevant leader in the cubicle around the corner.
Change is a Choice
One of the best things you can start doing is READING. Everything you need for your better future and success has already been written. And guess what? It’s all available. All you have to do is go to the library (yes, there are still libraries) or go online.
Three of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes are:
“Don’t just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it.”
“The book you don’t read won’t help.”
“It isn’t what the book costs; it’s what it will cost if you don’t read it.”
When people become supervisors for the first time, they usually want to prove themselves to everyone around. So the problem they run into is acting without stopping to think of the consequences involved.
Some things to keep in the forefront of your mind are:
Don’t be someone you’re not. You’ve worked with these people for a few years already and they know who you are, so you don’t need to prove it. A promotion shouldn’t change who you are, it only changes what you do, your title and your workload.
Be a Team Player
You may now be the supervisor, but remember it takes a team of people to get the job done. You’re there to help your co-workers; to serve them, support them and make it better for them however you can. Remember that it takes teamwork to make a dream work.
Keep the lines of communication open. It may take some time for your co-workers to feel that they can approach you with some issues. Keep your office door open and incorporate regular meetings where your employees have the opportunity to talk to you about any issues they may have.
Take a Stand
Don’t be afraid to confront your former co-workers. If you need to address a situation, don’t back down. Take a deep breath and gently dive in! Your employees need to see that you’ll not be disrespected and walked over; you are their leader whether they like it or not. They’ll probably appreciate what you have to say, especially if they know you’re on their side.
But one of the biggest roles you’ll have is that of MOTIVATOR and INSPIRATOR. In 1940, Walt Disney called a halt to production of Pinocchio because he thought Pinocchio was looking TOO wooden. He called young animator Ward Kimball into his office.
Kimball, who was upset because his labors on Snow White had ended up on the cutting-room floor, was planning to use the occasion to resign when Walt called him in. But, luckily, he never had a chance. He got so excited listening to Walt talk about his dreams for the film and his ideas about Jiminy Cricket that Kimball entirely forgot about his own intentions of resigning.
Ward Kimball went on to become one of the greatest animators of all time.
“Being a manager is a big responsibility, and it is really big if you have direct reports. The minute you have direct reports, the job of management becomes a leadership role.
What you do or don’t do has a tremendous impact on people’s lives who are depending on you.
If you take the time to:
- Find out how you can help your direct reports reach their goals,
- Take the time to listen to them,
- Involve them,
- Ask their opinion,
- Show complete respect for them, and
- Make them more knowledgeable
. . . then you will long be remembered as a great leader . . . and years later you will hear from someone whom you helped out years before . . . and they will be calling to say thank you.”
When leaders/managers retire, they’re usually not remembered for the fantastic job they did in creating department budgets or disciplining employees. Instead, people remember that they had fun and they brightened their days or made their work more tolerable.
What’s the first leadership book you’re going to read? Are you prepared to make mistakes and be able to keep on pushing? Do you have the focus, motivation, and dreams to succeed?
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Image Sources: turnbacktogod.com
- 7 Ways to Correct Team Members Correctly (linked2leadership.com)
- How Do You Transform A Life? (linked2leadership.com)
- Who I Admire Most (yuriartibise.com)