When we are faced with a new situation, we automatically run through a quick inner checklist that has four questions:
Why, who, what and how.
The sequence of the four questions is always the same. We need answers to them in that order. It’s hard for us to totally focus on the next one if we are missing answers to the previous questions.
It's not as if we speak these questions out loud, especially not the first two. We sense them—our radar scans for answers.
The classic beginner’s error managers make is that they jump in and show team members how they want something done, totally skipping the first three questions. Then, they scratch their head in frustration as they realize the job is not getting done the way they hoped. “How many times do I have to tell them this?”
Slightly more experienced managers will skip just the first two questions and go straight to what and then on to how. It's a bit better but not by much.
You see, we all...
Essentially, you're the instrument. How you decide to show up from situation to situation will determine how your relationships with other people are formed.
If you're the instrument, you will need to be aware of three things: your actions, behaviors, and conversations. At the end of the day, how you decide to mix and match these three will determine how successful you end up being in your roles as an FTM—or in any future management position for that matter.
In this blog post, you'll explore the first of these three key tools.
What you decide to do—or not to do—defines you in your managerial role.
Leaders who come across as trustworthy and powerful in the best sense of the words are the people whom you know you can trust to act on something when it's brought to their attention. In my view, they are powerful leaders.
In this blog post, I would like to focus on the importance of relations.
The last blog post briefly touched on this when you worked through the high-performance team model.
The second step in that process—the who part—is all about relations.
Daniel H. Kim, the systems thinker, has illustrated this in an elegant way.
You then have a fundamental choice here which can go one of two ways: You can generate an upward spiral where we are continuously developing our relations and, as a result, performing better, or you can take the downward spiral where it all just gets worse.
It's a choice—a choice that's going to determine whether the team's going to be successful or not.
Ultimately, it’s going to determine whether you're successful in your role as a team leader.
For the first-time manager (FTM), this sometimes comes as a surprise. You may think, "I have a gazillion other things to do. Do I also have to think about that? I just want to get...
In the previous blog post, I introduced you to DAC (Direction, Alignment, and Commitment), the leadership concept developed by The Center for Creative Leadership. You looked at how that can be useful for first-time managers (FTMs) to understand what they need to focus on from a leadership perspective. In fact, this does not only apply to FTMs. A lot of seasoned team managers could benefit from applying this thinking as well—but that is another story.
To recap, DAC stands for Direction, Alignment, and Commitment. This framework is not something that one person—the leader—tells everyone to do. On the contrary, establishing DAC is a process. It happens as a result of a two-way exchange with everyone on the team. It's co-created, so to speak, but often initiated by the leader.
That's the theory covered in the previous blog post. But if you're a newly appointed manager, you may well be thinking, "This makes sense but where do I begin?"
It's actually not as tricky...
Research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership has identified a number of challenges that first-time managers (FTMs) have in common. You can read the full list here. I have chosen to focus on the top one because you could argue that the rest of the issues are all sub-issues that arise from the same overall challenge:
The FTM has been used to achieving results through a high degree of control over themselves. They set goals and manage their time and effort in such a way as to reach them. That's exactly what has drawn attention to them in the first place and is the reason they have now been promoted to their first management position.
But the way they control themselves is not going to work on others. They need to learn to switch from control to influence, which is an entirely different approach.
"If you knew how many times I have told them to do that."
But as they eventually work out, telling...
In the previous blog post, you looked at how the first-time manager (FTM) is often neglected when it comes to training and development. In this blog post, you'll start identifying some of the challenges that the FTM has.
The scenario is quite the same in most types of service organizations. Due to a promotion or an organizational shuffle, you often find yourself needing a supervisor or team leader on one of your customer-facing teams. You are busy. The position needs to be filled fast so your first reaction is to look at the team and see who you have that could jump in the role.
Often you find who you think is the right person for the job. The criteria used to evaluate this is typically the person’s performance. You pick a high-performing team member with a lot of personal drive. On top of that, you choose someone who is well organized. In short, it’s a...
We have on-boarding programs for new employees. We train front line staff in all aspects of customer service. We also have development programs for executives. But what about for the first time managers (FTMs)?
The FTM is typically an employee who is doing well in a specific function. They get the job done. Because they are doing well, they get noticed and promoted to their first managerial position. They become some version of a team leader.
Virtually from one day to the next, their job context changes dramatically.
What type of training program are you offering your new FTMs—programs that will help them cope with this new situation?
Well, if you're like most organizations out there, you probably aren't offering much.
In terms of situational leadership, the classical mistake is assuming that because someone is good at one thing, they will automatically also be good at the next thing you ask them to do.
But being a high performer in your functional area doesn't...
In the previous blog post, you looked at how teams are organic systems, and by definition, unstable.
The lack of stability shows up as a result of the shifting states of each team member. In return, that obviously has repercussions on the state of the whole team.
States are temporary conditions that constantly transition into new ones. You are tired, refreshed, lethargic, or energetic. These are all different forms of physical states. You are also happy, sad, exuberant, or angry. These are emotional states. The two play an ongoing interdependent dance with each other. For instance, when you have slept well, you might feel happier than when you just had two hours of restless sleep on a plane.
The state that you are in at any given time influences your performance quite dramatically. Just think of yourself and what a difference it makes to your own performance when you are feeling energetic and happy—or the opposite.
But it is more complex than...
As you continue to explore team leadership being different from team management, you now need to look at another aspect of the team.
A team is also a system. When you look at it from that angle, you need to recognize that systems come in many forms. One way to look at them is either mechanical or organic. Mechanical systems are things like computers, cars, and factories. Mechanical systems are, by definition, stable. You may feel that your car is "moody," but that probably reflects more about you than the car. The car just either works or not. Meaning, it continues to work up to a point, then it snaps and goes kaput.
Human beings—the core elements of your team—are organic systems, as are cats, cauliflowers or caterpillars. By definition, organic systems are unstable. They are always in transition from one state to another. Humans go from happy to excited to sad, from wide awake to drowsy, from enthusiastic to reluctant and back...
When it comes to leadership, three common but major challenges appear. These are how to best:
In a previous blog post, you explored what it means to be inspirational. In the next few blog posts, you will explore what leadership means in a team context. Afterward, you will learn about leadership dedicated to the challenge of developing employees.
Just to recap: The basic premise for this and the succeeding blog posts is that management and leadership are distinctly different. Both are required, but somehow most managers tend to focus more on the management part of the job and neglect the leadership aspect. If you are in the service industry, this mindset will ultimately affect your guest experience.
In my view, team management is all about the operational, practical and tangible aspects of what the team does—tasks, timelines, delivery, budget, among others. It all needs to be looked after or...