Thoughts on Leadership

I’ve been having interesting conversation with folks recently about management philosophy and the transition one makes from being an individual contributor to being a manager.  It’s not an easy one.

As I wrote in my essay on building creative teams, it starts with people.  Growing up, my father would always say, “Never be afraid to hire people smarter than you.  First rate managers hire first rate people.  Second rate managers hire third rate people.”  It can be troubling the first time as a manager when you realize that you don’t know as much about a particular bit of work a subordinate is doing as they do.  But that’s why you hired / recruited the best… to let them know what the organizations goals are… and then “Get out of their way!”

Ok, let’s be honest, “We can’t all be heros.”  Not all of your subordinates are going to be self-starting superstars.  That’s where you will have to understand what motivates each individual in your team and provide it.  Sometimes, it’s coaching and encouragement to help them overcome uncertainty.  Sometimes is personal recognition and an attentive listener.  Sometimes in technical coaching to learn a needed skill.  Sometimes (hopefully not often) someone with whom one can safely blow off steam.  Pay attention to what your team members asking of you.

What’s the Plan, Stan?

A team can only be as good as the plan.  One can’t succeed, or even know if they did or didn’t, if they don’t have a plan.  That’s the manager’s job, to help create the plan and goals for the larger organization, along with peers and one’s own upline management and communicate that plan effectively to one’s team.  It can be a lot of work… but that’s why we have full time managers and not just team leads.

Interesting links:

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/rational/library/4033.html

https://www.managingamericans.com/BlogFeed/Leadership-Teambuilding/The-Difference-Between-an-Individual-Contributor-a-Leader.htm

http://billzipponbusiness.com/leadership-transition/

 

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