"How do you be?" Rather than, "How do you do?" might be a strange way to meet and greet someone you’ve never met before - “Hi Steve, how do you be today!?”. It’s a question, however, we too infrequently ask ourselves - how am I being right now? When you think about managing other people you must first understand that “you cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first” (Drucker). First-time managers this is for you: in managing yourself you must cultivate a deep awareness of how you are being throughout your day, and in front of your team - when you are being who you want to be, the doing will come (and probably more easily than if you forced it).
In my very first role as a manager, I experienced first-time manager syndrome trying to manage an overwhelming volume of work. I did however have an advantage! I had just come through a set of deep personal stress, away from home in a foreign country (the deep south of the U.S.). Being back at home, returning to Canada and feeling safe again gave me an edge, an alignment from within that helped me be me. It afforded me the ability to be compassionate, selfless, and connected while doing really cool, groundbreaking work with Internet pioneers!
Fast forward a few years and I'm managing a team of 38 people, everyone in an agency except for the Director of Marketing, the small sales team and the 2 Principals.The demands were high and I felt like I had never managed before (it was my 4th team) - I had lost awareness of how I was being and what that meant to my team and the business. Needless to say, that gig didn’t end the way I would have liked.
This stuff is hard!
Sometimes we hear people say these are soft skills or soft issues - I suggest that these are actually the hardest things you will do - they require you to look inside and find alignment or make changes. Change is hard. How you be, in my mind, is wrapped up in how you feel, think, and behave. It comes too from being aware of the the things you value (in yourself and in others) and the things you believe (about yourself, about others and about their intentions). These are real things that show on your outside, people can see them. They show up in (as we know) seconds, to someone else. What they see becomes your “Reputation” (Hogan). And, your reputation is not your identity - those things we tell ourselves about ourselves - you don’t control your reputation directly. It is made up of what people see you say and do - how you be.
7 points to help you be your best leader self:
Mindset: How can I be of benefit to this person? (any person not just a team member)
Remember: A paycheck, bonus, and benefits are no longer enough for a lot of people!
Consider: Meaning, happiness and connectedness form part of life, even at work
Be: Personal (you are working with people afterall)
Be: Aware of yourself and be aware of your “why” for your actions in the moment
Be: Not in the picture (leadership is about others and your organization)
Be: Compassionate (have an honest interest in the other person’s well being)
You are a High Potential Leader
In the end, first-time managers (and the rest of us too) are going to want to show their “potential to build and lead teams that can consistently outperform the competition.” How you do that as a first-time manager (and in fact, throughout your career) will determine how committed and satisfied your team is with your leadership. It will also have an impact on how they perform their jobs, which impacts your team’s performance. Look inside, be courageous, be honest about what you see. Decide how you want to be and work with someone like a coach to get you there! Enjoy your time and enjoy the privilege you have of managing others!