Last week, I had the chance to present to a large group of front line and new managers. In addition, a number of HR leaders and managers of those groups attended my presentation called “How not to Suck as a Manager”. Besides the catchy title that some said they signed up for the title alone (no joke! I mean, wouldn’t you?) , we spent an hour talking about several topics on improving as a manager.
The best part? I didn’t teach them anything they didn’t already know.
Well… ok. That’s not true. If it were, then why was I there yapping, and why were they there, paying me to yap? But the baseline is true. What I say is not rocket science…but guess what? Leading isn’t rocket science either. The secret?
You have what it takes to be a leader.
…. You just don’t know it. Have you experienced the benefits of a great or amazing manager? How did that make you feel? How much more engaged or productive were you? Have you ever had the unfortunate chance to work for someone who was less than stellar… or, better put – sucked as a manager? Didn’t even try? What did they do? Or not do? Did they even know you had a dog and that you love project work, even though you’re in accounting? Or that you’d love the opportunity to cross train – you’d even work extra hours – if only they’d ask?
Last week, Chloe Andrews from CCS Construction Staffing, commented on the session, “I learned things I knew, but I didn’t act upon”. We talked about some of the things that front line managers really want (communication, feedback and training, not necessarily in that order) – again NOT rocket science.
Why the heck is it so hard?
1- Because we don’t realize what we have
You’ve got at least 20 years of experience right now. No? How many times have you interacted with someone? Gotten someone to do something else? Followed up on a promise? Even by the time you graduate from high school (with about 15 years of experience, let’s say) – you’ve done a lot of it. What worked? What didn’t? Use your knowledge. Leading is getting folks to do what you want them to do – and have THEM want to do it.
2- Because we don’t know what’s important
Another attendee mentioned at the session we “touched base on topics that we [managers] sometimes assume is known but [realizing] there is a definite positive impact by stating it aloud”. You are inundated with information all day long. And those frickin’ Smartphones aren’t helping. What’s good information? How can you use it to benefit yourself and your team?
When you find yourself in a “new” leadership situation, start by asking yourself these simple question, “What does this look like? How is it similar to what I’ve experienced in the past?”. You may realize you have the answer, you just need a different perspective… your own.
3- Because we think we’re alone in our problems
Bet you can answer this one now. You are most definitely NOT alone. In fact, you are surrounded. There are many people like you. One participant noted with a bit of relief (and potentially joyful glee) – “I’m not alone [in the way I’m] feeling that I’m not prepared for management”. There are others out there that have been there or are going through it now. Asking for advice is not weakness. It’s strength.
Reach out. Do not pass go or collect $200. Do it now. You could be shocked (or just a little gleeful!) for the results.
Bottom line. You have the experiences. You’re not alone. You just haven’t put all the pieces together – yet. Confidence is a big factor, and we’ll talk about that too… But just realizing that by trying to be a better leader…. you already are.