John Smith was once a field technician who was recognized as having great technical skills and a good personality. He was known as a nice person and received many compliments from both customers and fellow employees.
The company he worked for was expanding and a managerial position was available. He was offered and accepted the position, even though he had no management experience and never really led anyone. He stated this to upper management, but they had the confidence he would pick it up due to his aptitude and attitude.
John knew that he would be faced with leadership challenges, and quickly found out that his decisions mattered. He focused too much on the small things, which needed to be addressed, but missed the big picture. He did not prioritize as he should have and tried to do everything himself so that he would not bother his staff. No one really knew the goals or objectives, or where the department was headed.
He did all of the talking because he thought that is what a leader and manager are supposed to do. He thought the only way to get things done was to intimidate, and he would lose his temper when things did not go right. If anyone criticized him, he would become immediately defensive. He did not even think about motivating his staff, he thought they should just do the work they were getting paid for.
Although his staff respected his technical capabilities and liked him, they did not look at him as a leader. Once he talked to a couple of his closest staff members, he realized that he needed to take a good look at how he could improve. He thought about people he respected as leaders and realized that they never seemed to get upset and were usually calm. He found that he needed to build trust and make sure everyone saw the same vision for the future. He started meeting more with his staff and asking for their opinions and suggestions. He knew not to let any criticism affect him personally, as everyone wants to succeed and enjoy their job at the same time.
He realized the importance of proper multitasking and prioritization. He made the decisions he was confident about and asked key employees for help or confirmation whenever he was not 100% sure. He also started freeing up the responsibilities he held tight by delegating out tasks. His stress levels were decreasing, and he started to act the part of a leader by being more calm and self-assured.
Even though he made some mistakes, and quite often would seek advice, he was earning trust from his team. This was due to always keeping them informed truthfully, and never giving up until the issues were resolved. They felt he truly had things under control. He had their best interests at heart and tried to motivate by mentoring, coaching and helping them grow. He listened to what they had to say and remained quiet until he had something useful or powerful to say. With this new humbled confidence, his leadership abilities improved to a point to where he was promoted to director, and soon after, vice-president.
Epilogue:This field tech, with no management or leadership experience, was able to grow once he realized the skills needed in order to succeed. By incorporating the information taught in this lesson into your daily routine as manager, you will earn respect and be known as a solid leader. There will be much more in-depth information regarding managerial skills with the mindset of a great leader in the following lessons. John’s story will continue as well as it relates to each lesson.
From next week I will be writing pieces on leadership skills. It goes without saying that history has shown that the most successful companies or armies had the best leaders and those that did not make it, leadership failed the business
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.