In my years as a leadership coach, I’ve observed again and again that the most demanding “growth spurt” you’ll face over the course of your career comes at the transition from individual contributor to team leader, or manager. How do you shift your focus from personal productivity to the effectiveness of other people?
A recent coaching engagement with Evelyn (a pseudonym) reminded me — yet again — that, with deep commitment, unflinching self-awareness, and hard work, the transition is eminently achievable. Evelyn amazed me!
This accomplished software developer was able to let go of old ingrained habits that had made her so successful as an individual contributor. She walked courageously into uncomfortable territory, giving as much time and attention to people as she gave to code. When we concluded our time together, Evelyn assembled her “top takeaways.” We’re hoping it’s a roadmap that will help you make the transition, too:
Persuasion is not a required skill for leadership; therefore, the inability to persuade is not important.
Patient listening is a required skill for leadership.
My task is bigger now! The task is to connect, then collaborate — not only to code.
(Am I the right leadership coach for you? Email me to find out.)
The main question of a manager: How do I get my team to do their best work?
The main job of a manager is to be clear about expectations: Learn each member’s help requirements.
Ideas have momentum; they move forward. A manager’s job is to continue the momentum.
Encourage people to be creative in their own way: focus on the outcome, not the method.
People may be wrong unintentionally, so be generous with explanations.
The feeling of being uptight is okay. The necessary skill to learn is being generous when feeling uptight.
Be the wise person who listens and attunes. Who speaks slowly. Who asks good questions.
Managing people well is a creative process, an art. It’s about asking the right questions. Rather than pushing an agenda, the goal is map-making to a solution.
A manager needs to know the right questions in order to help the team go in the right direction. Be the editor, not the writer.
Take time to focus on other people: listen and engage.
In meetings: really look at the speaker. It’s a generous way to help her/him. Listening slowly sets the pace and allows you to speak slowly.