What too many people fail to grasp is that one doesn’t become a leader overnight. You may have the title, but that’s not all it takes to be successful. To become a good leader takes some planning and experience.
Have you ever felt like this:
“I was “one of them” on Friday, but since I’m their supervisor now, no one likes me. Why?”
You probably made the jump too suddenly.
When people tell me they want to be a leader in their organization or I hear that someone is being looked at to fill an upcoming position, the first thing I tell them is to start the transition NOW. Plan and learn.
Don’t wait to make a sudden change over a weekend, because you’ll set yourself up for disaster.
Two Lessons on Leadership
Here are a couple of stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.
Mike has been one of the guys since he started at ABC Company. He knows his job well, and that of the department, but really only does what’s required. He watches the clock, is always yucking it up with everyone and hits the bars every Friday afternoon having drinks with the best of them.
But behind all of that, Mike does think about moving up and his managers believe he has some good leadership potential. A supervisor position is getting ready to open up in 2 weeks and Mike is offered the job. That means more money, control, and responsibility. He says he’s up for the challenge.
Mike does nothing to prepare, thinking he’ll learn what he needs to know once he starts. He continues his ways and on Friday Mike goes out with the gang and pounds shots. On Monday morning, Mike is a straight-laced, all business, suit, barking orders around every corner. What do you think the reaction of his staff is to this new look? “What the h*ll happened to you?” Is his staff ready to work for/with him? I don’t think so, Tim.
From then on, Mike is in an uphill battle to get respect and support.
Patty, on the other hand, knew she wanted to be a leader within the ABC Company someday. Everyone likes her and although she’s also one of the guys, she never goes overboard.
She has fun, but within limits.
Patty, like Mike, knows her job and the department well. But unlike Mike, she asks questions and tries to understand the business as much as she can. She also reads leadership blogs online (i.e., Linked2Leadership) and participates in leadership type webinars. The people she works with know where she’s headed someday. So it comes as no surprise that when a leadership position opens in her department, she’s offered the job and accepts.
She immediately asks for a time during the next two weeks to meet with experienced leaders to discuss her new position and to ask questions. At the same time, Patty discusses how this new position is going to alter her relationships with her,
- old peers/new team,
- new peers/other leaders,
- old/new boss, and
- . . . family.
How do you think Patty’s transition goes, compared to Mike’s? I see much success in Patty’s future.
Leadership and Family
When I talk to people about changing relationships, many don’t immediately understand how there’s a change with family. After all, work and family are two separate things. Well, not exactly. Even though we like to keep the two separate, they’re pretty well intertwined. The added responsibility of being a leader is going to cause more stress, working more hours, and possibly travel, among other things.
Your future is also your family’s future.
Don’t get caught up just looking at the job itself. It’s going to affect other people besides you. The better prepared they are, the less stress it will cause.
It’s never too late to learn and plan for the future. It doesn’t matter if you’re an up and comer, or you’re a director, or even a CEO. Learning should be a lifelong endeavor.
When we stop learning, we stop growing.
The two books I always recommend to people when they’re starting out in their first leadership role are:
- From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership, by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris, and
- Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney, by Lee Cockerell.
These books are not only good for new leaders but also serve as great reminders and inspiration – and some new info – for the seasoned leader.
It takes little effort, or time, to read a couple of blogs or books here and there. Then be sure to share that new found information with the people coming up underneath you. Remember, some of those people are going to be in your position someday.
Have you planned your future? Do you discuss your future with your family? Are you investing in continued learning? Are you helping others succeed?
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service, Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | (727) 568-5433
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Great post Andy. I really appreciate the two stories. I feel that managers and supervisors are just that, especially if they are not liked by many. Managers and supervisors use rank to get staff members to follow their commands, and staff member have to do follow their boss’ orders. Employee engagement and true inclusion are very difficult to accomplish by managers and supervisors. When a manager/supervisor becomes a leader, they start the process of influencing, engaging staff members. Then the process of inclusion is possible.
Encouraging and lesson-learning stories here. Quite interesting and Kudos to the team
The examples given in the article even know two weeks before that they were going to be selected. For me I was called by school principal suddenly and discussed with me and offered the leadership position. I have been struggling a lot. However, I bought lot of leadership books,read a lot of articles about leadership, observed good leaders actions and characters, and try to inspire people who work under my leadership. I think I am leading much better than 7 years ago but I still not satisfied with my leadership. I still read and improve my leadership skills.
While my story occurred a very long time ago, I have never forgotten it. My story is like Muralee’s, i.e. with no warning whatsoever, I was called into the Project Manager’s office and told I would be the supervisor for my team of 5.
When I left the cubicle to get this message, the group was buzzing about whatever came to their minds. When I came back with the new ‘promotion’ to my same desk, the conversation in the cubicle ceased entirely and everyone just put their heads down and ignored me.
Back in the late ’60’s there was very little material available on leadership, and our company had not training for it whatsoever, so it became a ‘learn as one goes’ process.
There are many more resources today, so people moving into leadership roles have more options.
Thanks for the stories.