When I became a leader for the first time, I had lots of thoughts about what to do and not to do, how much I should get involved in other’s work, what I should focus on, how a leader should behave, etc…
If you are a new leader and manager, you might also have several thoughts circulating. I have put together some mistakes and hints, to help you avoid these mistakes. The list is based on my own and other leaders’ mistakes that I have witnessed over the years. A list that I wish I had myself back in 2004, when I became a manager for the first time.
Don’t think that trust is only about team building
It is not enough only to go away on some team building and think that you will build trust in a group. Building trust is done through behavior: what you do and what you say. It is about being honest and vulnerable, and showing that you can make mistakes. It is about explaining the purpose behind your actions and keeping your promises. This is true both for you as a leader, and for your coworkers.
Team building activities can be a good way to get to know each other and to start building trust.
But really building trust is something you work on every day. Here you can read more about how to build trust as a leader.
You think that a leader must be a very busy person
There are many leaders today who don’t prioritize being managers. They say that they don’t have time because they are so operational. I say that their priorities are wrong.
The best leaders help their coworkers to navigate their days and give structure around what needs to be done. They support and coach their coworkers to develop, and they are clear about why their staff members’ work means something, and what it leads to.
But you can’t do that as a leader, if you hide in your email inbox all day, or if you are out traveling to visit clients and suppliers every week.
Be available as a leader and let your staff do their job, and focus on what is most important for them to succeed: Focus on being a good leader.
You think that you give enough feedback
As humane beings, we are addicts to attention. We love getting praise and being seen by our managers often, and we want feedback so that we know that we are on the right track. So learn how to work with feedback and give feedback often. Spread lots of praise, and give developing feedback when required. Here is a blog post about feedback (in Swedish).
You think that you can be your coworker’s mate
When I became a manager for the first time, it was for the group that I had been a coworker in myself. Obviously I had a better relationship, even friendship, with some of my coworkers. It can be very difficult to become manager to your old colleagues and friends, and there is also a risk that they lose trust in the new leader if he or she is more friendly with some than others.
But not being too friendly with your coworkers (at least at work) obviously doesn’t mean that you should become arrogant against them. However, don’t try to compensate by being too understanding and nice all the time. Your job is not to be their mate.
Your job is to give the group the right conditions to feel well and perform at their best. This means sometimes being tough and question ways of working, performance, objectives etc. This means that you need to give feedback on what is good and on what could improve. This means that you have to deal with conflicts, directly, and sort these out.
Be yourself and be a person that people like to work with, but also respect as a leader.
You solve your coworkers problems by having more technical expertise
It is so easy to jump in and do the job for a coworker who have challenges, especially when superiors call you stressing how urgent everything is. Sometimes it probably goes quicker and might even become a bit better, if you take over a coworker’s task and do the job for them.
But that is something you should watch out for.
This makes your coworkers feel overrun, they lose confidence in you and they might well think “Why should I work here when you know everything better?”.
Of course, sometimes it really is super urgent, but then you must first have a dialogue with the coworker about how serious the situation is. Let the coworker do the job and have a close dialogue about the support they need, how you can help them, and what they should do.
Team conquers all
If you are to succeed as a leader, you have to enjoy working with people. It is not enough being best at your job, skills wise, you have to be passionate about seeing other people succeed.
To get your coworkers to succeed and to stress that it is you as a team that succeed, doesn’t only build trust in you as a leader, it also helps you in your career. Your superiors will realize that your leadership is a strongly contributing factor to that you as a team perform and feel well.
Everyone makes mistakes, also leaders. Now you have learned about some mistakes that I have done, and others’ mistakes that I have witnessed. I hope you can learn something from this.
Why does Puls Solutions exist?
Puls Solutions exists because we want to develop teams and leaders to feel and perform better.
We offer an AI-based employee engagement platform to create the right conditions for a good work environment and high employee engagement. A platform that is the team´s best friend.
Our platform involves the employees, relieves the managers and helps them to prioritize and implement improvements that leads to increased employee engagement and increased business results. For real.