So You Think You Can Manage?

I can see it now−you’ve gotten that long awaited promotion. Now you’re finally in charge of a team of people. You have the office you’ve been wanting, you get to sit in on those top secret conference calls and you get to make decisions on how the budget is spent. You're on top of the world. Big things await you…right?

Soon after you settle in, your new team starts coming to you for advice, insight, ideas and direction; you’re expected to run routine team meetings, have a planned agenda full of meaningful and productive topics, and you’re even expected to **gasp** follow through.

Over time, you get through each day by making decisions on your own, then telling the team what comes next. You’re consistently checking up on their progress, decisions and deadlines. Instead of wasting time consulting with your team on the direction something needs to go, or what will be next, you go ahead and make those decisions for everyone. Instead of spending time talking to your team about what they want to do next with their career, you just keep handing them work that surely makes them happy. It’s just what you have to do to get through the day, right?

Congratulations. You’re a manager. However, what decision makers often don’t tell you when they put you in a managerial role is… your team wants a leader. Not a manager.

They want someone who:

  • Involves them in decision making - this includes the brainstorming that leads to the conclusion; as well as healthy discussions around the why and how behind a decision, change or certain direction.
  • Isn’t afraid to say that they can’t do it all - more specifically, someone who is good at delegating to those they know can carry the project through from start to finish. A good leader knows they have a good team behind them to get the job done, and knows just who to pass off the right work to.
  • Trusts that their team is capable of getting things done - this means without the constant micro-management and time checking.
  • Recognizes when there is a need for a change within the team - identifying and confronting team issues and dynamics isn’t an easy one, even for the best of leaders. But the strong leaders are those who can acknowledge the issue, address it, and follow through with their changes for the better of the team.
  • Can admit when they’re wrong - being vulnerable does not make someone an incapable leader. In fact, it shows their team that they’re just as human as the rest of them. This bravery, to show that you’re not always right, is something that can earn the respect of not only your direct reports, but your colleagues.
  • Becoming a leader doesn’t happen overnight and while some people are born with the capabilities to lead others, some can take a while longer to get the hang of it. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Either way, if you haven’t already, one day you just might find yourself getting to choose what you do with this opportunity.

    So which will you be? A manager or a leader?