Once you’ve reached the level of managing managers on your team, your professional development focus shifts considerably. It’s up to you to provide the environment, context, and motivation that serves as rocket fuel for your new managers.
From feedback and coaching discussions to interchanges with coworkers who can say, “Yes” or “No” to your requests for resources, process changes, budgetary allocations or fresh ideas, there’s no end to the critical communication situations we encounter at work. I find that just a few common-sense, authentic communication tactics improve your success and strengthen your credibility as well.
There are no courses, books, or even alchemical formulas that replace the hard work essential for learning to lead. Here are 10 hard-won lessons for anyone in search of success as a leader:
If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a coach in your professional or personal life, know that there’s a formula for success with this endeavor. Success starts with the right mindset—a beginner’s mind—and the commitment to listening, processing, and applying and experimenting with yourself and your behaviors daily. In other words, it’s hard work. Here are five additional ideas that will help you succeed:
The absence of respect breeds toxicity among individuals and across the workplace. Instead of being blinded by your brilliance it pays to take the time to look, listen, learn, and value the person across the table from you. You’ll be pleased with results, including the respect you'll receive in return.
Some individuals are thrust on to a big stage and summon the strength to lead others through perilous times. For the rest of us, we are faced with almost daily opportunities to step-up and lead on the small stage. Some look the other way and others summon the strength from somewhere inside themselves to do the right thing.
Imagine there was a tool at your disposal that would help reinforce in real-time the behaviors of group members that moved the performance numbers in the right direction. Or, a tool that would get people motivated to learn, grow, and leave behind less-than-ideal behaviors in favor of new approaches and continuous improvement. Wouldn’t this be helpful? Well, there is. It’s called performance feedback. And sadly, it’s often missing-in-action, misapplied, or, applied inconsistently, and that’s just leaving money and morale on the table.
We spend a great deal of time in our organizations striving to reduce risk and uncertainty. For some tasks that's possible, but for the big issues of strategies and market forces, it's impossible to bend behaviors and responses to fit our scripts. Effective leaders understand they must build teams that recognize uncertainty as opportunity and live to excel in those moments.
The work of developing new managers and setting them up to emerge as our future leaders is mission critical. I've devoted much of my career to this good work and am excited to launch First-Time Managers Academy—a new approach for this important cause.
When evaluating individuals for advancement into management roles, I prioritize character over knowledge, skills, and abilities. The latter are developed with coaching and training, however, by the time they get to you, it's too late to teach character.