On the surface, there is no job that looks easier than managing a group of people. Think about it. Leaders get to delegate tasks to all group members without actually doing any of it themselves. They get to give orders and the rest of the team is expected to pay attention and do a good job on their assignment. Meanwhile, the leader of the group appears to get all of the glory, doing interviews on TV or attending conference events and getting to travel and do exciting new things that not everyone on the team may get to. For many companies, working under a powerful and well-regarded leader can be inspiring. It forces the associates to push themselves harder, to do more, until they get to become a manager of their own. And sometimes the leaders aren’t great either which can also work as a personal motivation for those under them too: the dream that one day they can take control and use their power for good.
So when that day comes and you finally get to become the senior member in your department, a first time leader, is it just as natural to step right into? Not really. Being given a new title brings with it a series of responsibilities that the surface view of the job never revealed. Sure, you’re getting a better paycheck and an office with a corner view, but you’re also getting more tasks to work on and the unspoken agreement between you and your boss that you will not fail at this. For some employees, this is a dream come true. Day in and day out, they strive to go above and beyond and make a real change within the business. For many, many more however, it’s not going to work out. The pressure of the position and the inability to perform or keep up will force the quality of their work to start taking a turn for the worse until the employee either quits from frustration or gets fired.
Take note, first time leaders, on my tips for leading a team to success.
This is the foremost rule of thumb. If you don’t believe in yourself and have faith that you can and will do solid work, then who will? Give yourself a pep talk in the morning if you don’t feel particularly motivated. Outside of work, stay physically engaged in activities that will help stretch your brain out- take a yoga class, do a tough crossword puzzle, get a culture fix over the weekend at the museum, and rest up with plenty of sleep. Remember, you’re leading a team now and as the leader, being on your game is a given.
Assemble a Great Team
This can be a hard one to accomplish but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to create physical change within your new position. Remember how I mentioned that leadership looks easy because you get to assign the work to those working for you and they get it done? That doesn’t happen if your team doesn’t take their work seriously. Hire employees who have a natural enthusiasm for their job title and are always willing to learn and help the team grow. You may have to search for awhile to find the right members, but once you do it makes the search well worth it.
Stay Late and Come in Early
You probably did this before you were assigned a leading role. Keep it up. On a work note, you may find yourself taking in longer hours because there is more about your job to enjoy and really want to come in early in the morning to work on. And beyond enjoyment, every now and then you’ll get an assignment that you physically won’t be able to abandon midway through. Take the longer hours whether you get paid extra for them or not- trust me, your hard work won’t be overlooked by your superior.
Physically Write Tasks Down
Invest in Post-Its. Write down what you need to get done and cross it off when it’s completed. Every employee at my company has a desk riddled with Post-Its. The act of writing down a task and checking it off is not only empowering but it really proves that you’re getting what you need to done!