What To Do When You Are In Charge

Today was the last day at work for my boss. He was a director level manager where I work and was a tremendous mentor to me. A couple years ago, I asked the question about what the next step for me was. And he willingly mentored and taught me. I sit here now by myself writing and I am now the captain of the ship. I am leading the team and if it is to be, it will be up to me to give the leadership to inspire my team. It makes me ask the question, “What To Do When You Are In Charge.” Here’s my top 5.

Recognize the Awesome Responsibility

It’s an awesome responsibility to be the one in charge. It’s not for everyone. But I love it – because I love people and the challenge to try and lead a team to be something greater than it otherwise could. I really am excited about it! I consider myself lucky – I am currently a manager already at work, but now I have the chance to seize the director position by the horns.

The fate of 6 people are now in my hands. If I can make our team do really well, then we’ll all do well. If I shrink from my responsibilities, then that will affect my team members. We are going to kick ass, that much I know. I will bring energy, enthusiasm, expertise, and a philosophy of doing all we possibly can, like the ant philosophy.

Understand Who You Are Working With

As I now move to be more responsible with the team, I realize that I work with a diverse group of people. We have a 20 year old intern, who is working just for the summer. We have a 25 year old intern about to get married. We have a 30 year old guy who is working on figuring out what he ultimately wants to do. We have a guy in his 40’s, a guy almost 50, and another gal who is in her 40’s. And lastly, there is me, the 36 year old guy :).

Each person is unique on the team. They have different personalities and skill sets. Part of my job is to understand this and have conversations with each of them to work to understand them as people and what they want to accomplish.

Find Out What Motivates Each Person

Each person on my team is motivated differently. Some are go getters who just go out and kick ass without me having to tell them anything. Some are in-between and need a combination of direction and space to do well. And others need consistent direction and care. The needs are very diverse!

Learning what motivates each person has been one of the great reveals to me as a leader. What motivates one person on the team does not necessarily motivate another on the team. I’ve learned that you cannot simply dictate to a team of people through a singular way of looking at things and have the team be highly motivated and productive.

Be Firm, But Gentle

A firm hand is a good thing, but not too firm. It’s important to give feedback and direction, but not in a way that belittle’s or degrades. I’m not my co-worker’s parent, just a manager. There are cases where I need to bring up things to a team member who might be struggling or having a lack of focus.

By my own nature, I am very gentle and love to live and laugh. I’m very hesitant to initiate confrontation and that is my own personal history that bred me that way. Even so, I’ve learned that I must bring up certain things to each team member where necessary to help steer them on the right course and I can’t be afraid to do that.

Give Consistent Leadership and Direction

Now that I’m the leader, it’s my job to make sure everyone understands what the organization wants from our team and the specific actions that will help us make that happen. I’m a firm believer that you can’t let too much time go with the team. It’s like the flower – it needs constant watering to stay alive and strong.

The team is a lot like that. The team needs to know if they are on the right track. Go too many days without any communication and the chance for getting off course increases. So I’ll work with each team member directly and hold meetings with the team as a whole.

Phew! I’m thankful for the chance to at least give it a go, that’s for sure. Even if I was let go from the company tomorrow, I’m thankful for the chance today to attempt to be a leader. I love it!

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