Dear Future Self,
It is all too easy to forget, once you’ve arrived where you want to be, the emotions along the way. Today I’m writing to remind you of the things you cannot afford to forget as you ascend the ranks:
The worst thing you can do is fail to communicate
The shift from being an individual contributor to a “contribution coordinator” is a big one. Your primary responsibility is no longer to produce great work, but to create an environment that motivates your reports to do just that. Don’t forget how critical it is to be available, to set clear expectations, to communicate deadlines (both urgent and not, so that your team can prioritize accordingly and make time for themselves –their quality of work will be all the thanks you need), and to create space for face-time as needed.
Show your team you’re invested in them, and they will invest in you
Making time to check in with your reports about their progress–both in terms of assignments and personal development–goes a long way. If you show your team that you are invested in them as individuals and you are willing to champion them as they move forward, they are far more likely to produce great work. You also stand a much better chance of retaining top talent.
Be punctual, and if you’re not, give advance notice
If you’re not early, you’re late; and if you, as a people leader, fail to be punctual you demonstrate a disregard for others’ time and a lack of care about the product or project at hand. Set the standard on your team. Give every meeting and every person (within reason) the respect to either honor time set aside or to not book it at all.
Lead by example, your actions set the tone
Respect is extremely difficult to gain once you lose it. If your team senses you don’t take your duties seriously, they won’t either. Keep your personal life private. Be accessible, but focused. Your work speaks for itself. While you may not have deliverables (at least that are visible to your reports) the pride you communicate in your initiative will send a message to your team.
Consistency is key, don’t let your moods dictate how you treat your team
There is nothing worse than someone else’s mood establishing the kind of day everyone else has to have. If you telegraph your moods unnecessarily, your team will resent you. No one is productive when they are walking on eggshells. Show them that you share their stress, don’t be the enforcer of theirs.