Recently I was working with a lovely team of people, some of whom had been in management positions for a considerable amount of years. They started by going through our three day programmer which, for want of a better description, lets call ‘Common Sense Leadership’. Now these were not junior managers in their first supervisory positions but reasonably senior in a large corporate. Some of them had been with the company for considerable years, some had been only a short time, some had had experience in a broad range of industries and some stayed mainly in the current one. There was considerable diversity within the group.
Now I really believe that this programme genuinely is just common sense and the principles really important to understand when you first start a career and most definitely before you first take on any sort of supervisory position. So why was it that their reactions consisted so much of ‘I wish I had learned this years ago’? The more I work in business the more I realise how scarily people often move up in an organisation – a bit like chucking someone in the deep end of a swimming pool before knowing if they can swim and hoping they will learn quickly enough before they actually drown!
Ask yourself for one moment what happened when you were promoted to your first supervisory or management position. Were you given the opportunity to attend some sort of development programme that enlightened you about the different skills that might be useful now you were about to take responsibility for leading a team of people? Were you given some insight into how you might develop each individual in your team how to step into their potential? Or …….. did you go home on the Friday leaving your current position knowing you were to step into your new role on Monday and very much hoping that some sort of osmosis will occur over the weekend turning you from employee to manager? Sadly, far too often I see the latter happen and when I run a programme find that people have been in management positions for a considerable length of time – sometimes many years – and had no opportunity to learn how to be truly effective and how to get the best out of the people who work for and with them.
So what can this result in? That you subconsciously take on the behaviours of the person or people who are above you. Fascinatingly enough, it can even be behaviours that you yourself don’t like. What do I mean by that? Lets say you have a successful and very autocratic boss who basically makes the majority of decisions, likes to have his ideas implemented and takes up most of the air space in meetings. This boss basically drives performance and is successful doing it – he cares about people and believes that he knows the way to keep the business moving forward – he is involved in everything! Now, you may find this incredibly frustrating and restrictive but because his strength and his decisions normally have a successful output you keep a low profile and just get on with it. Without even realising you are doing it, there is a very high probability that you will now adopt a similar style when managing your team. What I see when people are managed this way are those who become pussycats upwards and dictators downwards.
Obviously if you have a different type of boss the opposite becomes true. The style I have just described is totally a management style and not a leadership one and if that is the style that comes from the very top then the culture is likely to be one that suppresses individuals thinking for themselves and holds back their potential performance. It is likely to be a culture that believes managers are there to motivate their people rather than breeding leaders who know that their role is to inspire each individual to motivate themselves.
So – to come back to where I started – without some understanding and learning about what it is that can make a great manager and leader you may acquire habits that are not entirely useful so find out all that you can BEFORE you take up that amazing opportunity. It will reward you many times over and allow you to choose who you want to be rather than copying a style that may not sit comfortably with you at all. I have become so frustrated with this that I have now launched a DVD suggesting that, if you are promoted without any thought about how you might tackle your new role, what are the first steps you could take to give yourself the very best opportunity to become an outstanding manager. Click here to find out more. Other DVD’s will follow suggesting the next steps that would allow you to develop even more of your leadership potential. Watch this space!