Congratulations! You now have more responsibility and “other duties as assigned.” You likely will have a team reporting to you. Are you looking to make an impact? What is your motivation? If you don’t understand this, now is the time!
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.Dwight D. Eisenhower
Are you stuck on those questions?
I was very fortunate to work for some great leaders and great managers, as well as some terrible ones. Take some time to write down all the good and bad experiences you have had as an employee. Just a simple brainstorm can help; jot them down. This is an essential step.
Based on those notes, create a set of principles based on the stories. Take time to think about them, convert them from the stories to a do’s and don’ts list. These are simple rules you are creating for yourself. Now take it a step further and flip the don’ts to things you should do. These are principles that you need to have with you as you move through your first days in your new role. Read them every day and revise them when necessary.
Why do this? It would be best to internalize them until you are the person you want to be in your new role. You will need these as a compass for being an ethical leader in your organization. From my experience, principled leaders are respected and admired in an organization; those with no true north flounder are ineffective leaders.
Develop muscle memory for your responses to ethically questionable situations. According to Brooke Deterline, it is possible to change the response, similar to muscle memory in sports.
Vision and Mission Statements
Take time to learn the vision and mission statements for your company. Chances are, many do not take the time to understand them. Keep in mind that the people who wrote them are often the executive leaders of the organization. If these statements matter to them, they should matter to the whole company and your department. When in doubt, fall back to those statements as a guide to making your decision.
Rely on Your Team
Your team likely wants the company to succeed, so let them. Top-down hierarchies have their place, but that mindset is dwindling and doesn’t work. The United States military, a bastion of the hierarchical model, has even seen changes in this area, promoting innovation. If you want to get an MBA condensed down to a word, communicate! Top-down is only half of the equation; feedback needs to flow up to them. How many times have you heard a co-worker say, “the President of the company just does things without our feedback”? If this is the case, either those that report to the President or CEO are not honest, the President doesn’t value input, or the culture has a problem.
Hint: most of the time, this involves active listening.
Keep open communication channels with your team. Be as honest with your team, but also be mindful of the impact of your words. It’s not just that you say it; it’s also how you say it.
Your communication with your group is essential, but value other’s input as well. Build a better work environment by listening to your team. They will have good ideas; let them experiment. Before just letting them run with it, I would recommend having them come up with four alternatives. At least three of these solutions should be serious contenders. It forces them to think about the problem and stretch to know the problem they are trying to solve entirely.
Efficiency Vs. Effectiveness
Eisenhower was very accurate with his statement; while management and leadership are often thought of as the same thing, they are two very different things. Think about those questions now, are you a manager, or are you a leader? To know this focus on the difference between these two words. Efficiency is accomplishing something with as few resources as necessary (time, people, materials, etc.). Effectiveness is doing the right thing. Managers are efficient, but leaders are effective. It doesn’t matter how efficiently your team is; if they aren’t doing the right thing then why even do the work?
Keep this in mind when taking on new projects, is the project right for the department? Is it right for the company?
- Develop a solid ethical base, from which all of your actions will come from.
- Learn the vision and mission of the company, know them, and let them guide your decisions.
- Your team is critical to your success, communicate openly and wisely with them. Even more important, listen to your team.
- Remember, being efficient is not being effective. If you are going to do something, make sure it is congruent with the vision and mission of the company.
I would love to get a dialog started on this, do you have any suggestions or comments? Please post them and I’ll be sure to get back to you.