What an insightful question this was from my old mentor!
What’s the difference? – I did not quite get it first
As a junior manager first I did not quite understand the difference: if I’m smart, saying and doing smart things then I become successful, isn’t it? Moreover, I studied, developed myself so I can be successful using that knowledge! I assumed being smart is an essential, even the most important component of my future success.
What’s the catch?
From high school, through college to junior knowledge worker our whole developement and employment is based on the expectation “to know”. That based on our subject matter knowledge, our fast-gathered experience we solve problems, making recommendations, contribute to decisions, even make decisions ourselves. No wonder I felt puzzled, I bet I am not alone.
Our decisions, based on deep technical knowledge are recognized. At school or university we get better marks, scholarships, at work we receive higher salary, prestige, even promotion for being knowledgeable, “smart”. During the years our belief that technical knowledge is an important, basic foundation of our success.
And it is fine until we are assigned to lead people.
What’s the difficulty?
As people’s manager our success is not guaranteed by our technical skills alone anymore.
Our primary role will be to develop our skills to lead our team towards an aligned goal, to get the best out of them individually and as a team. To develop processes that work when we are not there even for a longer period of time.
The issue is that for these newer challenges we have been hardly prepared, no wonder we feel frustrated. Both the new leader and the team. We see team members losing their motivation, unnecessary rivalry appears and as manager we feel needed to be there every second otherwise the whole thing collapses.
We at onTarget hear this regularly our clients: “it’s like I’m in a kindergarten and I’m the nurse”. No suprise. The same clients also complain about how difficult it is for them not to tell their people what and how to do exactly. These are the two sides of the same issue. If it’s always us who tells the exact solution then on the long run we create a bigger issue for ourselves: our people will not be able to take responsibility, they will act as dependent children.
Does this sound familiar?
What’s the solution?
The first step is to realize: as a people’s leader our technical experise role is just a part of our job. There’s no magic here: we need to accept our leadership role, invest into learning what makes a leader truly great. The good news it that this can be learned, just like any other role – and our clients confirm this! Once you start developing your leadership skills then your technical knowledge, your “smartness” will not be a barrier but a solid foundation to your success as a leader.
Worth watching a military general’s learnings in the same direction
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People program that we deliver in strategic partnership with FranklinCovey Hungary gives a great start on this journey to bring your leadership skills to life. If you want to get started, please contact us.
What issues do you face in your leadership role? Let us know in the Comments!