I think today on election Tuesday many of us throughout the United States are considering what traits we look for in a leader. I’m not going to state any political opinions here, but I do believe that every leader or those who want to lead should consider the following information.
1. Do you like to teach others?
The most important part of being a manager is teaching your employees. When you teach you are creating and strengthening the workforce in your organization. But teaching doesn’t mean showing you’re right and the employee is wrong. Teaching is about ongoing and mutual learning. When you are a teacher/coach you are molding the professional personalities, ethics, and confidence in your team.
Management is real responsibility and you have to genuinely care about the progress of others. We have all had those managers/bosses that are great at the job, but we wonder how they were ever promoted to lead a team. Understand that being good at the job does not mean you will be good at leading others, and you may not get the same satisfaction from leading others because leading is about building your team. When your department gets a win, it is a team effort, not ‘Look at what a great leader I am’. Honestly evaluate where you stand on teaching because being a boss that does not teach hurts the team, but also limits your career before it begins.
2. EQ: Emotional Intelligence. Do you have it?
Okay, so we hear about this over and over again, but do we really know what this term means? The answer is No! EQ is subjective. But what you need to know is in place of the word ‘Intelligence’ use the word ‘awareness’. Are you aware of your personal triggers and are you able to put those to the side in order to promote a healthy work environment. As I am typing this, I am thinking of several incidents over my career that blew me away and how my reactions both positively and negatively affected the outcome. I will give you actual positive and negative examples of how I’ve handled difficult situations with employees in next weeks blog post on EQ: Emotional Intelligence.
The biggest takeaway I hope you have from EQ is you are in control of your reactions to every situation. A reactive boss is one that does not inspire his/her employees. In performance evaluations you will be evaluated on how well you work with your team. Your success is directly tied to the success of your team. If you have a personality that thrives on likeability, then management is probably not for you. Likewise, if you enjoy putting others in their place and being right all the time, then management is not for you.
In my most recent manager role my team lovingly referred to me as ‘Sledgehammer’. This was a name they shared with me. They told me it was because they knew if they messed up, I was going to hold them accountable. But at the same time, they knew I was always there for them if they needed anything. And I had given them enough trust and autonomy to make decisions based on their knowledge/experience for them to grow in their careers. When I left, they threw me a potluck which included wonderful food, staff that had left and came to the event just to say goodbye, a framed picture (which I keep in my home), and I even had someone bring her guitar and sing ‘Tears in Heaven’. It was a wonderful feeling and is a cherished memory.
3. Accountability. What does the term mean to you?
In business we are all accountable to someone. As a manager you are accountable for yourself and your entire staff. Understand that if the numbers are not there, the brunt of responsibility falls on you and your abilities. Self-evaluation is the only way to achieve your goals as a team. You have to be accountable enough to have constant and accurate evaluation of your strengths/weaknesses, forecasting/projections, and action plans. When I fall short of a goal as a manager, I take responsibility in the meeting with my boss. I do not point out an employee’s weakness in this meeting, even if deserved, because it is my responsibly as the employee’s manger to catch this weakness and help correct the issue before any negative affect on the goal. So, managers need to understand that leadership means you are responsible for the positive and negative that comes from your team.
Lastly, let me end by stating managers rarely get the public glory. This is not a position for those who seek the spotlight. Your satisfaction should come from leading a team to reach their goals, grooming individuals for management and to move forward in their careers.
Until next Tuesday…
Describe one time having the ‘right boss’ positively impacted your career?