Have you ever reached a point in your career where you've wondered, "What if I became a manager?" I know I have. It's a common thought that often leads to reflection on the kind of manager you'd like to be.
Prior to becoming a manager, I believed that excelling as a recruiter would inherently qualify me to effectively lead a team of recruiters. Let’s just say, I was wrong! I quickly learned that being a manager is a huge career transition that comes with a lot of responsibility - not just to yourself but also to your team.
As a first-time manager, you have to be prepared to shift your focus from individual achievements to team success. Sure, the skills that made you great in your previous role are transferable, but your job now is to make your team successful and help them grow their careers.
Here are some lessons I've learned along the way that can help you succeed as a first-time manager:
1. Develop your Leadership Style & Lead by Example
There's no one-size-fits-all approach as far as developing your leadership style is concerned. It's important to create a style that fits your personality and your team's needs (I found Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead particularly helpful for exactly that). Take the time to reflect on what kind of leader you want to be and what values you want to embody. Don't feel like you have to copy someone else's style - be authentic and true to yourself. Once you've established your style, lead by example. Show your team what you expect from them by modeling the behavior you want to see. Be punctual, respectful, and follow through on your commitments. Your team will take notice and follow your lead.
2. Communicate Effectively & Know How to Listen
When it comes to leading a team, effective communication is everything. Your team members need to know that they're being heard and understood. This means regularly communicating with them in a way that is clear and direct, and making sure that you're available to them when they need you (Here you can find the 10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders; an oldie but a goodie). But communication is a two-way street. It's just as important to be a good listener as it is to be a good communicator. When you actively listen to your team members, you'll gain a better understanding of their needs and concerns, and this will help you build stronger relationships with them.
3. Continuously Learn & Embrace Mistakes
Never stop learning and growing as a leader. Look for opportunities to attend training sessions, seek mentorship, or read books on leadership. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, instead embrace them as opportunities to learn and improve. When you do make a mistake, be honest about it and take responsibility. Then take action to make it right and prevent it from happening again in the future. Remember, it's not about being perfect, it's about continuously improving and becoming the best leader you can be (This podcast is a great place to start).
4. Positively Reinforce & Be Inclusive
Effective leadership involves positively reinforcing and being inclusive towards team members. It's important to recognize and appreciate their contributions, acknowledging their hard work and giving credit where it's due. This builds trust and loyalty among the team. It's also crucial to foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture by creating a safe and welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Encouraging open communication and feedback is key, and addressing any issues that arise proactively ("The Art of Possibility" delves deeper in this topic). Remember, diversity and inclusivity are strengths that enhance creativity and innovation.