We’ve been talking about leadership, branding, sustainable development at length in all our articles, as well as all the various possible combinations you can think of:
Leadership in branding, sustainable leadership, branding CSR – and there is still a lot more to explore!
Let's pause a bit, and try to reflect on leadership.
We discussed leadership numerous times.
What seems to be a consensus between our readers on various platforms is that there are very few leaders and a lot more managers.
You also have those managers who try to become leaders and don’t succeed, and therefore promote the idea that ‘leaders are born to be’ and this is a skill that cannot be acquired.
It is a fact that some are born leaders - great figures of the past are real life examples: since their youngest age they were a driving force.
It is also a fact that anyone can become a leader, as long as they realize that it is not an easy path and it requires continuous hard work.
It is even harder for new managers who just got promoted:
They can easily describe from experience what makes a bad manager, or a try-hard / failing leader because as employees they were under the authority of such bosses.
Yet, many – as soon as they got promoted – make the same mistakes as their former managers.
Very much so as kids who suffered from bad parents become bad parents themselves:
Most of us can only reproduce what we experienced.
Still, this is not necessarily an unavoidable vicious-circle.
Again, as mentioned before, with hard work and running continuous self-analysis to be able to quickly correct mistakes, everyone can become a leader – maybe not as the new Julius Caesar or Gandhi, but still a very acceptable leader who can make an absolute positive difference for their company and environment.
What a newly promoted manager must pay attention to, to succeed and become a true leader?
(The following will apply very well also to seasoned managers at any step of the corporate ladder who want to develop their leadership)
It’s not you. It’s them.
First and foremost, a leader must understand that their leadership success depends entirely on the good will of their employees.
As a manager, you can decide whatever you want, it doesn’t really matter: the implementation success of your decision is in the hands of your workforce.
Of course, they will (eventually) do as you ordered.
When and how well are altogether another matter!
You must consider your team individuals’ perspective, needs, interests, skills and preferences.
This simple mindset (still hard to acquire) will go a long way toward working through the challenges of your new role.
You’re a manager now. You must change.
Many newly promoted managers believe that they only need to adapt to their new role and all will go well.
In fact, it is not that easy:
As soon as you are promoted, you enter a new world.
Let’s take an analogy:
It’s like becoming teacher in the same school where you were a student only months ago: you cannot succeed as a teacher if you keep your student mindset.
It simply doesn’t work.
Well, this is the same when you become a manager – your mindset must change.
What does that mean?
Newly promoted managers must develop new values, deeper self-awareness, increased emotional maturity, and the ability to exercise wise judgment.
Many managers, for example, are accused of being control freaks because they don’t delegate. But a desire for control often isn’t the only problem.
Instead, it may very well be an issue of identity.
They haven’t yet changed how they think about themselves and their contribution, the value they add as managers.
They resist giving up the role of doer because they believe, if only unconsciously, that’s who they are. They have not learned to see themselves as the boss.
In fact, becoming a manager requires so much personal learning and change that it is truly a transformation, very similar to the transformations required by such life events as finishing school, beginning a career, getting married, or having a child.
You’re the boss. All the time.
Remember when you were on the other side of the fence?
Consciously or unconsciously, your eyes were all the time on your boss, wondering what they were thinking of you, “why s/he didn’t wish me a good morning today? S/he always say good morning. What did I do wrong?”
You’re the boss now.
Your team is looking at you – that they like or dislike you is not relevant.
They constantly look at you, interpreting everything you do or say – or not do or not say!
Keep always in mind that – as in any relationship – you are only half of the equation:
You can do your part, but you have no control whatsoever on what everyone in the team will think of you.
You can force them to agree with you – it doesn’t mean that deep-down they do agree, and that they will not talk badly about you as soon as you turn your back while resisting you as much as possible.
No matter what you do or say you will always find opposition – most of the time they will mostly talk and more rarely act in the shadow, but some will do everything they can to oppose you (especially if your promotion was made at the detriment of one of your colleagues!).
Remember Julius Caesar:
His troops were dedicated to him and followed him to the end of the then known world, giving Rome the greatest and best managed empire known to man.
Still, he was killed by those close to him – included Brutus whom he called ‘his son’ (Atque ita tribus et viginti plagis confossus est uno modo ad primum ictum gemitu sine voce edito, etsi tradiderunt quidam Marco Bruto irruenti dixisse: και συ τέκνον).
At the end of the day, all you really have control over are your own thoughts, ideas, behaviors and actions.
Your job is to make sure your half of the equation is right – and let the rest go.
You must stay in control of your emotions.
Regardless of the size of your team, there are always one or two individuals you prefer and one or two you could really do without.
As a leader, you must ensure to never show favoritism.
You need to always be in control of your feelings, ensuring that whatever you think of Ms. X or Mr. Y does not transpire in the way you deal with them.
To understand why, read again the paragraph titled ‘You’re the boss. All the time’:
Everyone is watching you; favoritism is one of the greatest team killers that no team building exercise can repair.
You also need to stay in control of your temper.
You will never become a leader if you are moody or explode at the first annoyance.
In fact, you cannot even be a proper manager!
Teams need to know what to expect, in the most positive way: you must be of a stable positive mood as much as possible in any circumstances.
If you are moody, your team will become unstable – online with your mood -, and therefore will spend more time adapting to your attitude than working hard to achieve their targets.
If you are the screaming or exploding type, all you will achieve is to scare the most influenceable members of your teams, and winning the Most Hated Boss award – with the consequences you can imagine on team morale and lack of performance.
You’re the boss. Be fair.
Of course, you have feelings – even if you succeed at hiding them.
Of course, you are working hard to avoid favoritism.
Yet, there are countless cases when you can be unfair:
Deny a well-earned promotion, reserve the best assignments to your preferred associates and those no one want to your least favorite colleagues, etc.
In other words, always ensure that you show an equal treatment to all in the way you distribute assignments, the way you speak to associates, the way you promote them, the way you manage them.
There are other cases when you believe being fair and you are not perceived as such by your team:
For instance, you may spend more time with Ms. X or Mr. Y due to operational circumstances.
Still, the rest of the team do not see it as such, and feel you are giving too much attention to those individuals and not enough to themselves.
To avoid as much as possible this unavoidable misunderstanding, implement a real ‘open door policy’ and tell everyone they can walk in at any time to share their mind with you… and really keep your door open!
Remind regularly and personally to those who never come that you are there whenever they need it to.
You’re the boss. You’re only the boss.
You need to earn respect from your team:
They may respect the chair you sit on and your title if they believe in the company, but they will not respect you until your earned it.
This is not easy task.
Once you earned your team respect, you need to keep it alive:
Respect is hard to earn but easy to lose.
In order to do so, you need to prove your leadership.
Leadership does not come by demonstrating that you can do whatever your associate does, but that you understand the environment in which they perform their duties, you acknowledge their challenges, you work to improve their working conditions, you respect their individualities… and – most important – you are not only words - you act.
You are the boss.
Don’t act like if you were God on Earth.
You constantly must work to win a consensus on as many decisions as possible.
Whenever a consensus cannot be reached, you have the last word.
That word must be respected thanks to the background work that you are constantly working on.
‘It is because I say so” is not an argument that will win you many followers – even if you believe you are right… and you might very well be!
You need to work with your teams if you want to succeed.
Not against them.
Because if you do, rest assure that you will eventually lose!
Were you recently promoted manager? How did you live the transition?
Do you consider yourself a leader or a manager?