Why would anyone want to be led by you?
It’s your first promotion into a leadership role – you’ve been selected as the successful candidate from a pool of talented people – you’re pumped! You’ve been wanting this for a while now. You killed the interview process and have been fielding congratulatory emails, texts, and calls all day. You’re genuinely excited about the next phase of your career.
And then reality sinks in – what the heck do I do now? While the excitement is still high, you also feel overwhelmed at all the things you have to do. And you’re a little insecure about how to manager others (What will the team think of me? Will I have to fire someone one day? How do I approve expense reports? Etc, etc.).
In this article I’ll outline ONE thing to consider as a first step in your new journey. There are many steps in the winding staircase that is management. That’s why there’s a gazillion books on the topic.
Yes, you need to build trust. Yes, your people need to know how much you care. Yes, you need to be competent in new systems and procedures. Be vulnerable. Be accurate. Be strategic. Deliver results. All true and all important. This article is not about that.
If you’re with a good company, you will likely receive training on all of the above.
The purpose of this article is to encourage you to be mindful of how you communicate. Never forget that what you do, what you say, and how you say it have a massive impact on how you are perceived as a new leader. Your team and others are already watching.
When it comes to communication, here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on your new career path:
What you think is crystal clear may be clear as mud to others. If you are managing more than 5 people on your team, odds are you’ll have direct reports with opposite communication styles. What you deem to be simple and easy, others may deem complicated and difficult. You have to find a way to explain it clearly, and ensure they understand it (tip: say “let me know what questions you have?” instead of “let me know if you have any questions” The first statement implies you are expecting them to inquire). Don’t assume it’s all understood after one conversation or email. Check in.
Sharing information across the board. You may think you’ve given a directive to all of your team, but in reality only a few have heard it from you. Life gets busy. Maybe you have employees that are remote and some that are at head office. No matter! They need to be in the loop. Be mindful of sidebar chats (tip: weekly team huddles/t-cons and team emails can ensure really important info gets shared.
Setting expectations. At your first team meeting as new manager it’s a great opportunity to set your expectations (team norms, ways of working, your communication style, contact frequency, preferred modes of communication, etc). And you need to keep this alive, too. Repetition is your friend. Don’t deliver a slide and then forget about it. Post it in a shared workplace – seeing is believing. And act accordingly.
The written word. What words are you using? Are you able to craft well worded, clearly articulate emails? Are you focused on the positive? Or are you musing about what you don’t want (tip: you get what you focus on, so be mindful of negativity)? Your thoughts influence your feelings, which influence your actions. Pay attention to your inner voice – is it taking you to the dark side more than it should?
The spoken word. Can you speak to a room and convey a message confidently? Command attention? Be authentic? This one comes with practice, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you (watch YouTube clip of great orators – comedians, actors, business leaders. Find what works for you. Seek a coach for feedback).
There will be a lot going on as you embark on this new career path. Pay attention to communication. It will serve as a great bedrock to you becoming a leader people want to follow.