Grow the Self, Grow the Team

Stepping up as a leader in any situation can be intimidating – coordinating team members and addressing company concerns on the fly would make many of us run for the hills and never look back.

However, after my promotion, I wanted to do something different.  I had a very clear idea of what embodied a “bad” leader, so I made a conscientious decision to perform as the ideal leader that I envisioned.

Going completely outside of my comfort zone, I strove to display such behaviors as honesty, effective communication, commitment and confidence.  This meant putting my typically “standoffish” behavior on the shelf and jumping into the fray with a steady hand.

Prior to my promotion, I strove to learn all of my duties inside and out.  My own managers were the typical office-dwelling “generalist” types, and I wanted to be able to explain to others what to do if they had a question.  This involved a lot of studying and absorbing the culture of our workplace until I knew it instinctively.

With this newfound ownership of position, I was promoted with a clear sense of what needed to be done.  I was able to clearly communicate company objectives to my team and confidently address issues when they occurred.  Gaining confidence in my own abilities put my team at ease and allowed us to move as a cohesive unit.

I was promoted with three other individuals, all of which had previously earned their business degrees.  However, for our position as frontline management, earning a degree was not a requirement.  I was promoted due to my expertise, which naturally bred confidence and my enthusiasm carried me the rest of the way.

I have managed many successful teams in my time as a manager, all of which were comprised of many different individuals with varying cultures and backgrounds.  Regardless of background, certain traits have a positive impact on team building, such as empathy and effective communication.  I learned that if you can show your employees that you care about their well-being while effectively communicating company goals, you can create a strong team that will follow you wherever you go.

One glaring mistake I witnessed my colleagues making as we grew into our positions was them not commending their teams.  After the initial high of success wore off, team members began to feel underappreciated, which could ultimately lead to conflicts and reduced morale.  I learned quickly that it is absolutely important to share the victory and let your employees know how their contribution helped secure the win.

After implementing this last revelation, the puzzle was by all intents and purposes complete.  But I never stopped growing.  Every time I moved to a new location or we hired a new set of employees, the process would start all over again.  At times, it felt like being tossed around inside of a dryer like a loose sock, but when we as managers are dealing with human beings, the possibilities are limitless.

It’s what we do with that knowledge that makes the difference between greatness and mediocrity.

Robert Conrad is a former Business student and Manager who has received multiple accolades, including a handcrafted wooden plaque awarded to him by his team.  In his off-time, he enjoys hanging out with his family and playing video games.  You can find Robert on Twitter and Facebook.

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