Moving from individual contributor to becoming a leader in YOUR company.
The transition from participating individually in a company to becoming a manager is an immense shift. I remember the first time I managed a team. I was genuinely excited about the responsibility of guiding and leading a group of people and putting into practice what I had learned from previous managers. I had no understanding of what all it would entail. I started to think that now I was essentially a person with greater power to get things done; I did not fully understand that to be a leader meant also changing the way I operated and thought, and examining the way my behavior would now be perceived.
Just because I was promoted or appointed to a manager role did not automatically bring success to me. We have often seen thriving executive members struggle to manage their team or super-talented individuals stumble in leading their former colleagues. People need time to develop skills and to create new best practices – ultimately, to change their view of themselves and how they operate within their company. How can we navigate this operational and personal shift? Luckily, there are some great resources and tips on better equipping individuals for future success. Here are my 3 top tips:
1. Reorient yourself within your company - recognize the shift in your role, and therefore yourself.
We know a manager’s role is significantly different from an individual contributor. The first step is to realize that more than your job has changed. It’s time to look at yourself differently and measure your success in the workplace differently. It’s no longer about what only you can bring to the table but also how you can equip your team to reach your company’s business goals.
This shift towards a greater consideration of your overall responsibility and impact is an important priority – especially if you hope to gain the trust of your team. While this may look simple on paper, it’s not always intuitive. It may seem like the natural first step is to produce quick results. While this is obviously important, it is vital to do so thoughtfully - to consider and plan for how your future actions align with your new role. Take the time to think about your new role and the relationships that need to be built to establish a strong foundation for future success - slow and steady wins the race.
2. Enable your team’s success by using some self-management best practices.
As a new manager, you will receive a new level of attention and scrutiny. Your direct reports will look to you, judge you, and their behaviors may become a reflection of what they perceive, as a result. Whether you want this to happen or not, your action will likely be evaluated by your team when they consider what is acceptable behavior and what is not. In my own experience, once I understood this concept -- that I was influencing the behavior of my team by what type of behavior I demonstrated to them -- I realized the importance of first managing myself, and being intentional about what I put forth, before starting to manage others.
At this time when I made my shift to manager, one of the biggest things I was faced with, believe it or not, was examining how in-control of, and in-tune with, my emotions I was really was. For example, were my interactions with my team still positive even when I was carrying the stress of my workload? What was I to do when they came to me with problems during times when I already felt frustrated or even angry because I had my own set of problems to solve. Ultimately, I navigated this by learning how to manage my reactions in any situation. Truthfully, it took an immense amount of self-control and effort to place my team first; yet, I knew that the outcome would be the first step of gaining my team’s respect. Additionally, I also began to understand that this relational shift would better facilitate my team’s individual growth and set a strong example for managing their own behavior.
3. Create a strong support circle by seeking out and investing in meaningful professional relationships.
Thinking back to my own experiences, I know that I was lucky to have many mentors and people to bounce ideas from as my career developed in the corporate world. Some turned out to be my immediate manager, some were leaders in other departments, and some were close friends and family members that were managers themselves. Surprisingly, they all had similar stories or great advice to share from their own experiences and gave a perspective I had never seen before.
Ultimately, setting yourself up for success during this unique transition is essential to your career; you are the future of your organization.
Written By: Jordana Venetico
Edited By: Natalie Filmore