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A Leader’s Journey

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Greater Toronto executive center

What does management actually mean? Does it automatically make you a good leader? I mean just because you are gifted at what you do, doesn’t mean you will be able to step into your boss’s shoes, does it?

“Congratulations, you are hired!” …words we all long to hear when we take a chance and apply for a job, that we are confident we are skilled at.

We work so hard to become great at a skill or an ability that makes us invaluable to others.

For many of us, our growth goals are synonymous with getting some form of promotion and a dream would be just becoming part of the coveted management team, which often means higher bonuses, company shares, maybe an office and ultimately a better connection with fellow C-Suite.

But what does management actually mean? Does it automatically make you a good leader? I mean just because you are gifted at what you do, doesn’t mean you will be able to step into your boss’s shoes, does it?

The part most fail to realize, in their leadership dream, is that becoming part of management doesn’t translate to you being a great leader, but it’s something you work at and learn over time in steering the course of an organization and its people.

Managing a team, whether big or small requires the ability to be able to step back and let others take the lead in their tasks, seeing the big picture and, most importantly, becoming the coach and mentor on a regular basis for those who now look to you.

More often than not, many newly appointed leaders often end up more insecure and frustrated because of the spotlight on them from both above and their direct reports below. It’s so important to recognize that it takes time to develop your own leadership style and it will not be the same as someone else.

In my experience there are a few important factors that any leader must always remember.

 Trust in your team’s ability to do their job, until they prove you otherwise.
I have come across many leaders who either can’t let go or just feel they can do a better job. What they don’t realize is this undermines their staff and destroys confidence, which is a basic need for any individual. Stepping back to allow another to shine and recognizing their achievement has a lot more mileage than just taking over.

 Seek opportunities to coach your team as often as possible.
Both positive and negative experiences are great opportunities to reinforce the business strategy and goals. Frequent team meetings or just checking in with individuals is a proactive approach to make sure the ship is on course.

 Make sure you adhere to and continuously evaluate your processes, as they are your checks and balances.

The appropriate controls in place give your team the autonomy to operate within their boundaries. Your team should always be clear on when to escalate or communicate potential situations, good or bad.

As a leader, your role involves recognizing industry trends, evaluating strategy and seeking new opportunities to ensure your organization continues to grow, rather than micromanaging day to day activities.

The right checks and balances is a combination of clear processes and procedures, coupled with regular evaluation and communication.

 Recognize effort and forgive blunders.
Now the latter is very situation specific, as some costly mistakes have no recourse but regardless of the result, use the situation as an opportunity to coach your team to prevent re-occurrence.

I have worked in many environments where extreme or negative reactions have become a part of the culture and a poor reflection on the organization as a whole.

Good or bad situations happen all the time, the key to handling it is our reaction. As a leader a negative reaction and resulting actions can prove more costly than the blunder itself. Not only are your direct reports watching you but so are your peers and other leaders.

To me, a good leader is a combination of expertise, ability and being a good coach. A leader should always be open to seeking coaching and mentoring themselves and recognize when they need to brush up on their own skills.

About the Author

Ritu has over two decades of experience in operations, marketing, and business development. Married and a proud mama of two, Ritu enjoys writing about her professional and personal life experiences.

“Forget race, forget gender, forget religion, and become a human, my friend. Become a human above everything else, and all great things shall follow.”

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