Jun 20, 201308:30 AMOpen for Business
with Jody Glynn Patrick
Promoted into management? Now what?
(page 1 of 2)
Everyone has a pet theory about what a leader is, or what a leader does. Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer at JPMorgan Chase, expressed his thoughts in a recent blog he wrote for LinkedIn titled “The Essential Hallmarks of a Good Leader,” and I recommend reading it. “While we cannot be great at all of these traits — I know I’m not — to be successful, a leader needs to get most of them right,” he wrote. Included on his list were discipline; fortitude; high standards; ability to face facts; openness; setup for success; morale-building; loyalty, meritocracy, and teamwork; fair treatment; and humility.
Dimon speaks plainly, where most leadership quotes leave you wondering. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been,” opined Henry Kissinger, while Theodore Roosevelt said, “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader works in the open and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success,” Stephen R. Covey said. “Leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
That all sounds great and motivating, but what does it really mean? The accepted wiki definition of leadership is this: “Leadership: The process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” But how do you do that? What are the behaviors that show discipline, openness, putting the ladder up against the right wall, and influencing others toward a necessary action? What does that mean to incoming middle managers who have risen from a line-staff position to take a first management job?
After you read Dimon’s essay on leadership — which does touch on foundation qualities like integrity, honesty, and fair play — let me add some behaviors that you might not think of so readily because they are the quieter behaviors that support the more visible or obvious habits. They would serve you well, too, in the practical workplace:
Build a network of influencers. Who are the natural influencers in your organization — not by title but by the deference shown for their opinions by their colleagues? They reflect the workplace culture. What do you know about them? Conversely, what do they know about you? An open-door policy will well suit you, but don’t wait for people to seek you out. Reach out and develop relationships across the company.
But … don’t play favorites. You will have favorites, but unless you are in the job of maintaining placeholders, everyone on your staff has something to offer the organization and nothing is more demotivating for quieter, less outgoing employees than feeling less valued than the people sitting beside them. That’s only one of many reasons why socializing with employees individually, rather than as a group, could be a great mistake that may sooner (as well as later) bite you in the butt. It’s hard, when you’ve come up through the ranks and made friends of some co-workers, to effectively manage the larger mixed group of previous supporters and detractors. However, that’s what the job requires if you’re going to be an effective manager.
Understand the concept of duty of care. Once you become a manager, it is actually less about you and more about the team you are trying to influence to assist you in moving the mountain you need moved. Now, in everything you do and say, you are an agent of the company. You are not a union leader or a social director, you are a representative of the business. Promises take on new gravity. Decisions and behaviors have added weight and legal consequence, and they may even expose you to some personal liabilities. Because of that, it’s critical that you keep the right confidences and that you also keep complete and accurate records.
Learn and model (or change) company policy. Too many new managers have to backtrack from a quick answer, so make sure your first decisions are grounded in company policy. What is your reimbursement policy? What is the preferred length of time between a customer complaint and an acceptable resolution? Can employees take unearned paid time off? Do you have the authority to approve pre-payroll loans? Can employees moonlight without permission, or make up time if they are gone for less than an hour on personal business? If you don’t know the answers, take time to check before issuing a knee-jerk judgment that could set precedent or dismay your boss.
Write down five leadership traits you want to be known for and tuck them someplace where you can see them during the workday — maybe under a clear desk-protector pad. Let’s say one of them comes from Dimon’s list: morale-building. What behavior, during the day today, tomorrow, and the next day, will you do to express your desire to build morale in your group? Hold yourself accountable to the list and you will quickly and more reliably model that behavior. If “honest” is one of your words, changing your actions to include behaviors you associate with honesty actually will cause you to become more honest. (Changing behaviors changes attitudes and inclinations — in the same way that changing attitudes changes behavior).
I’d love to hear from other experienced managers what advice they would add to both Dimon’s list and mine for new managers, so chime in! Lifelong learning and mentoring is also part of the job — and the fun!