Whether they offered you the job or you were “voluntold”, either way it’s begun and you are now a “boss”. So now what? First, let’s take a deep breath and think about this.
The word “boss” carries a lot of weight with it. So much weight that it comes off a little negative. A common theme of this website will be to destroy the historical idea of a “boss” and bring the modern middle manager into view. These people influence others in a way that creates and sustains high performing teams. Also, you need to know something right up front. It’s difficult. If it wasn’t, anyone would be able to do it.
There are many people who could NEVER be a middle manager. To clarify, a middle manager is anyone who reports to someone and has direct reports. It’s that simple.
The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and remember to not take yourself too seriously. You’re not going to be expected to change the world. In truth, it’s best to celebrate (if that is called for) and prepare to enjoy the ride. The journey is the best part. Who knows where this will lead. Sure, you’ll have problems, but don’t forget to keep it in perspective. Nobody’s perfect!
You can do this. I know because I made the transition from individual contributor to “boss”.
Here are five steps to help make that transition a little less painful. Remember to begin with the end in mind.
1. Embrace the moment – Realize that you are not here by accident. If you were not meant to be a leader, you wouldn’t be here. Have confidence in your faith, your abilities and your network. I got my first break when others said “no” to a promotion at my job. I said “yes”. A few years later, and I moved my family to another city and took over a major leadership role within the company. You never know.
2. Understand yourself and your role – I guess before you can “be it”, you need to know what “it” is and how you can best accomplish “it”. I have seen middle managers fail, simply because they didn’t clarify the job with their manager. If you haven’t had that conversation with your boss, initiate it immediately. And please, don’t make the mistake of trying to be your predecessor. You are you, no one else. Know your strengths and match those strengths to the job at hand.
3. Realize that you work for everyone – Servant leadership is a model that builds strong relationships. Servant leaders don’t always say “yes”, but they serve their customers (those above and below you) by treating them with true respect. Sometimes, that means a “no” is required.
4. Determine your moral code and value system early – You will need to have a moral code and personal value system that cannot be compromised. It has been said that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. This is especially true now more than ever. Your personal code will help in all of your decisions. Only you can come up with it, hence the moniker “personal code”.
5. You will make mistakes and become uncomfortable, so get over it and learn from these experiences – Look, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s a part of life. Don’t sweat it! You have got to get out of that cozy comfort zone If you want to make an influential impact and lead others. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you will build the confidence necessary to raise your awareness and leadership capabilities. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Now, get started!