When you first step up into a leadership role such as team supervisor, unit manager or practice manager it can be challenging to find your own style of leadership. This is particularly challenging if you have been promoted up from the team which you are now supervising.
In an endeavour to not be the micro-managing boss that you and your peers have probably complained about over drinks, you might try to be a little less hands-on, not too directive and try to maintain an “I am still just a part of the group” approach.
A laissez faire style of leadership feels less aggressive and if your team is already high-performing and filled with self-motivated, experienced professionals, it may well be a great way to keep everyone engaged and empowered.
A word of warning.
People feel empowered with they know what is expected of them, they understand and have the skills to do the task, and they know what the end goal is.
People do not feel empowered by vague ideas, lack of guide posts and lack of genuine feedback.
Finding that delicate balance between micro-managing and laissez faire may feel difficult at first but there a few things you can look out for. You will inevitably fall off the tightrope, you will inevitably irritate a team member and you will not always connect perfectly with all your team. You are human. That is ok and in fact don’t run from making a mistake as it is in these mistakes you will learn and adjust.
- If you overstep and realise you have been micro-managing when it was not called for (it sometimes is very necessary) then speak with the person and explain why (if there was a good reason) or apologise (if you were acting out of fear or anxiety).
- This leads to the idea of being vulnerable. I remember when I was a newly minted manager and the shifting mix of excitement and anxiety. It is normal to want to prove yourself and prove that you were the right choice. You may even feel like some of your team members are waiting for you to trip. That reflects badly on them, not you. Don’t be afraid to let your boss know that you are stuck, don’t know how to handle a matter, or have already mishandled something. Take a deep breath and explore your options and determine that you really are stuck before approaching someone for assistance. Do this sooner rather than later.
- Similarly, if you have team members who are more skilled in specific areas then you are don’t be afraid to seek their advice. Just because you are the leader does not mean you need to be an expert in every element of the business.
- On the other hand, don’t overshare with your team. Be honest and open with your decisions and maintain a level of friendship but you will be privy to management discussions that do not form the basis for gossip with the team.
- You are meant to provide direction so speak up. Do you have executive presence: the ability to command attention and respect when you speak? Executive presence includes how you connect with people, your personal style, posture, body language, voice tonality and confidence. Honestly examine where you need development and seek information from books, colleagues or a private coach. You can learn to look, speak and act like a leader. Most of the skill is in your mindset.
- Address poor performance early. I learnt this the hard way when I spent way too much time trying to work around a problem person. I get it, we all want to be liked and I think likeability is an important characteristic of leadership. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-dismiss-power-likeability-kim-adams Just don’t let it come at the expense of managing your staff, providing appropriate feedback and being willing to have performance conversations.
I work with leadership teams to navigate organisational change and develop high performing teams.
I especially enjoy working with emerging and new leaders to build their communication confidence and leadership presence.
Email me to discover how I can work with you and your organisation to get results that make a difference.