Archives for November 2010
An article in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled Bosses Overestimate Their Managing Skills suggests that the perceptions new managers have of themselves and of their ability to manage and lead others leads them to one conclusion: they are undoubtedly the right person for the job!
This perception explains why they reported that they rarely regretted being promoted and that they didn’t question their ability to lead others. That prompted me to come to the following conclusion. Those polled are either clueless or they’re clueless.
I say they’re clueless because the study asked 1100 new managers two interesting questions about their first year as a manager.
1. Did they ever regret being promoted, and
2. Did they ever question their ability to lead others?
Surprisingly, 74% never regretted being promoted, and 72% never questioned their ability to lead others. Add to this the fact that only 10% of those surveyed said that communication, coaching, and gaining commitment (the people / human side of leadership) were developmental areas. I see that as either self induced or organizationally sanctioned cluelessness.
Anytime you marry the confidence of not questioning your ability to lead people, with the naïveté of not seeing the human aspect of leadership as a developmental opportunity – there is an accident waiting to happen.
I believe you have to have confidence in order to be in the business of leading others. But rarely does that happen in the first year. More often than not the new managers I’ve met stand in stark opposition to the respondents in this survey. The new managers I meet balance precariously between their sincere hope and desire to do well in their new role, and the reality of learning and growing into the responsibilities of leadership. They experience sleepless nights asking, “what was I thinking?”
When you don’t know what you don’t know – you don’t know what your developmental priorities should be. It is when we don’t know what we don’t know that I recommend three things:
1. Develop a learning and growth mindset based on curiosity. Recognize that when your learning curve is steep, it is easy to lose sight of how well you’re doing regarding the people, issues, and events you’re leading. You have to remain curious about how you’re seeing things and whether your perceptions are helping or hindering your forward progress.
2. Establish a mentoring and or coaching relationship based on trust. In the first year of any new role, remaining curious as to what’s working and what’s not working can be hard if not impossible without the help of someone who cares about us and has our best interest at heart. Find a coach and or mentor sooner rather than later…your growth and progress will be significantly greater if you do.
3. Recognize that success in management and leadership is based on technical as well as People Skills. Mangers and leaders rarely work in isolation – theirs is not a solo activity. Harnessing the talents and skills of those around them is a fulcrum for accelerating results – but it requires humility and curiosity.