You’re excited. You’ve got the job you were gunning for and now you’re heading into your first week as leader of your new team. You don’t know anything much about them – who’s going to be a problem and how will you handle them?
Well, as the song goes, before you accuse me, take a look at yourself. Self awareness is the foundation of great leadership.
I’m guessing you did a strengths and challenges thing for the interviews right? What can you bring to this role? Where do you think your challenges lie? If you don’t have the honest answers to these questions (and you can’t just list one of each), then seek feedback from people whose opinion you respect. Mentors, friends, past bosses. It’s critical to know how your leadership style will impact on others.
And it’s one thing to say, I know I talk way too much (self deprecating laughter), yeah, I’m a hard arse (so what grin). How will your challenges affect the success of your team?
If you’re the hard arse kind it’s possible you may be abrupt and without knowing it, walk around with resting bitch face. You move fast. You’re there to get a job done and not to make friends. Stop right there. You don’t have to cycle together to work, but you do need to take the time to build new relationships. There will be some who need to get to know you more personally in order to trust and to follow you. There will be some you’ll scare off with your barking tone and resting bitch face. Share little bits of yourself without giving the whole game away. But share some vulnerability to help build trust.
Maybe you’re the excitable, passionate kind who gets everyone inspired (in the end). But have you ever thought that your positive enthusiasm for life and change can just drain the energy from some people, leaving them exhausted? There will be those who may shrink from your ebullient ways and not be able to find a space to get a word in. They feel silenced. You want to change everything at once because you have so many ideas. But for some, change is upsetting, disruptive and destabilising. You’ve just turned their world upside down. Be aware of the team members who may shrink just a little as you bowl into the room, and dial it down, just a bit. And maybe make just one change at a time.
Perhaps you’re the type who manages with accuracy and precision. You think deeply and mistakes are not tolerated, and shouldn’t happen if you have the right systems and procedures in place. So it’s natural that you keep a firm watch on everything that’s going on. Others can see it as micromanaging. You don’t really like speaking in a public forum that much so you limit team meetings. The team may see you as secretive. There are people who will simply rebel and not follow your rules, soon getting out of control. When people feel they are being micromanaged, it’s really tough to build the trust you need as a leader. There will be those who are disconcerted they feel they don’t know what’s going on. It’s hard to let go of these things (and let’s face it, there’s a little micromanager in all of us) because we’re often stressed about getting the right result. But start small. Encourage employee involvement. Perhaps share assignments out, and you take one small role yourself. And remember, that without mistakes, there can be no growth.
Or maybe you’re the leader who wants to be everybody’s friend. You love people, you’re good at building solid relationships and ideally you’d have a team who had drinks after work on a Friday singing kumbayah and giving group hugs. But there are those who don’t want that. Who just want to come to work to do a job well, not to be friends with everyone. They’re going to feel uncomfortable. Your desire to collaborate on everything can be seen by some as weak and indecisive, unable to make your own decisions. They will find ways to do their own thing and to undermine you. You’re going to have to dial back the love just a little and make a few tough decisions early in your leadership to show you can step up to the plate if you need to.
At no point here am I suggesting you take away the very essence of who you are. But look at your good points from another’s perspective.
I get straight to it: I work with logic, I get things done. You scare me, you don’t take the time to build relationships.
I’m fun and funny and love change. You’re loud, your comments are hurtful and you move too fast for me.
I’m efficient, organised and pride myself on getting things right. You micromanage, just let me do the job I was hired for.
I’m a friendly, caring boss. You waste time on people, what about the results?
Being a leader is an exciting, stimulating and responsible role. Be the very best one you can be by starting with some focused self analysis.
Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, trainer, coach and author. Her fruit keynote, Working with People You Just Don't Get, draws on the classic four personality types and explores why we’re different, how we're different and what we can do about it.
Her book Bite Me! and other do's and don't of dealing with our differences provides a more comprehensive profiling tool. We get to take a reluctant look at ourselves and why we don’t make the most of our relationships with others.