First days and weeks as a Leader. Guide for the Lost.

Today is the first day of your new life, life as a Leader. You’ve made up your mind, opportunity has arrived and there is only one thing left to do – to plan first day, week and month in the new role. At the beginning I promised that in all those articles we’ll be talking about truth so also in this case let’s focus on facts – first months will be difficult, a bit stressful and for sure they will cost you a few sleepless nights. But you’ll get through this and with the help of those couple tips I’ll try to make it easier for you. The key to success her is a plan, detailed and realistic plan.

One of the things that you need to think about is the first team meeting. Don’t wait too long and try to organize meeting with whole team in the first days in a new role. For sure your team members will be curious who’ll be leading them. Giving them the opportunity to know your previous experience, plan and what’s even more important to ask you some questions will be priceless. Usually such meetings are beneficial for both sides as you’ll have an opportunity to hear what people think about their job. If you’ll gain their trust you may also collect some important information about what is wrong and what are the expectations towards you. During the meeting try not to interrupt, let people speak honestly, this may be one of the few occasions that someone is really listening to what they’re saying.

Try to note every important idea or suggestion, what is really helpful is to make a summary of what have been discussed at the end of the meeting. This way you’ll be sure that you got everything right and your team members will notice that you take those matters seriously. Next step is to proactively work to make things better, you need to show that you do care and there are real actions made after meetings like this one.

Other thing it to schedule individual meetings with your employees. This step depends on the size of your team but for sure you should have such meetings scheduled with your direct subordinates. Benefits related to this form of contact with your team members are undeniable. Things like building positive relationship, providing feedback or keep people informed about short and long-term goals can be best performed during those meetings.

Now when you’ve scheduled all required meetings, you need to start getting familiar with the process that you’ll be responsible for and of course with all your duties. In case if you start doing something completely new there is one golden rule which should help you. To be honest, if the new position is somehow similar to the one of your previous jobs it will be easier, but this rule will also apply here. The rule is: Always make notes!

It might sound simple, and probably we’re not making significant scientific discovery but believe me, many people do this mistake. Of course, you may be able to remember all the details connected with your new duties (I do not deny that there are such people) but let’s approach this realistically – your life will be more difficult without proper notes. During first weeks there will be too many details related to company policy, procedures and new people, to remember them all on required level. Let’s not also forget about stress, which wont be help you to remember everything. Make your life easier and for each meeting and training take a laptop or notebook with you. Believe me that from a time perspective you will not regret this.  

Be prepared that you’ll be making mistakes, what’s more important- you’re allowed to do them. You’re new in the role and considering that first weeks will be spent on trainings and introduction to the new role, things like this may happen. The key to approach this in a right way is to be honest with your superiors about the issues that appeared and also to be proactive in resolving them. If you’ll also prepare some ideas on how to avoid those mistakes in the future I think that skilled Manager or Director will understand the situation and what’s even more, will guide you with some helpful tips.

Last advice is to prepare detailed plan with goals for you and your team for upcoming months. Try not to do this before you’ll get familiar with full knowledge about the processes that you’re responsible for. Once this will be done you can share the plan with your Team, show them that you know what course this ship will take. I think that it would be also a good idea to ask for a feedback, as mentioned before it’s crucial not to underestimate the voice of your Team. If you’ll be there for them, they will always help you.


To Lead or not to Lead?

At some point of your career you may ask yourself a question – Would I be a good Leader? To find out if you’ll fit into this role, you need to know the big picture behind the whole management process and going further to understand all the advantages and disadvantages related to the role of the Leader.

Let’s start with the brighter side of management process, advantages:

First of all being a Manager gives you a great opportunity to help developing other people. Starting from day one, you will be able to effectively support your team members. This means that you’ll have a significant power to help them grow in organization, guide them and what’s more important change their life. Sounds great? It is, what can be better than helping other?

However, together with that opportunity also responsibilities go.  Be careful with advices in cases which go beyond your personal experience. If you’re not CEO, you probably have your own boss which should be able to support you if needed. Other important thing is to help in development process when people want you to support them, try not to force anybody to change their life because you think that this will be best for them. You may cause more troubles than benefits and in worst case scenario your employee will start to look for a brighter future somewhere else. 

Second thing which is worth to mention when it comes to the role of Leader is motivation. Let’s focus only on positive motivation because in most of the cases this will be right path to follow. We don’t want to manage by fear – not that century, not that style.

To successfully motivate your employees, you’ll need to know them. Sounds simple but it’s not. You need to talk with your team members but the key to do it right is to really be interested in what they feel or think about their job. You need to know what problems they have and what’s even more important try to help in solving those problems.

In this process you should be honest and don’t fake anything because people are intelligent, they will figure out that you’re trying to convince them that you do care when in fact that’s not the case. If you don’t feel that at the beginning of your management journey let it go, focus on other aspects and probably at some point of time this will come. It’s like with negotiation skills, some people are born with that and some need to learn it from scratch.

Other thing which is not mention very often is a Vision. Being a Leader gives you opportunity to plan your actions and moves. You will need to find goals that you and your team will try to reach in specified period of time. This process is strictly connected with the Vision that all good Leaders should have.  Vision is the thing that will motivate you and your team to work effectively, it’s the common goal that you should be proud of. Where would be Amazon or SpaceX if Leaders who established those companies didn’t have Vision? It’s a bit different scale but process is exactly the same. Thinking about goals for your team and share it in the way that people will support you with achieving them is the best thing that can happen to you. Good vision can move the mountains.

Next thing are rewards. As a manager you’ll have many available options to reward your employees. First and the easiest way is of course money but believe me or not this is not always the best solution. Salary raise or some bonus will work but only for short term. Some time ago I heard that salary raise can motivate people only for first couple months. I’m starting to believe in it.

As a manager who will try to motivate team members, you’ll have a great opportunity to ask them directly what motivates them the most. You may be surprised how many people will tell you that they just want to be appreciated for the job they did or hear a few good words from their Leader. It just shows that at some point we may forget that maybe money is not the most important reward?

Last of the most important advantages that comes with being a manager is your development. Previously we focused on the Team but there is always a place to work on your skills. Things such as negotiation and communication, effective planning or process management will improve with every small experience or solved problem.

The more time you spend as a Leader the more you’ll be confident in making right decisions. Month after month you’ll face new challenges that before becoming a Leader you would not even think about.

As a Leader you’ll be responsible for things like health and safety of your team members. This aspect is not so interesting at first glance but please bear in mind that during 8 hours which people spend in the Office you need to be sure if they are safe. Any issues with hardware or facility equipment should be reported immediately to responsible employees. It’s very helpful to share such information with your Team. Going through this again and again on the meeting can be boring but this is a part of Leader’s role.

Other challenge relates to Conflicts and relationships between your Team members. If you’ll be lucky, you’ll manage the team where everyone will like each other but let’s consider a bit more pessimistic scenario. You found out that two of your subordinates have some kind of conflict with each other, it slowly affects whole team. Worst thing that you can do is try to wait until conflict will disappear by itself. First of all, talk separately with both sides of this conflict and try to resolve it. Next step if this wont help would be to meet with conflicted parties and act as a mediator. If this also won’t help you’ll need to consider getting involved someone from HR. Usually those people will have more experience in resolving such problems. The ultimate solution of such conflict may end in moving one of the employees to another Team.

Beside that there are subjects related with recruitment process, labour law or results management which should be also considered as a challenges that newly appointed Leader will have to face, but let’s keep those topics for a different discussion.

Based on what we touched you can see that this role has some great advantages and the same time we’re able to point out important responsibilities. Decision of becoming a Leader should be made based on full knowledge about the Role, I do hope that this will help a bit.

Forced Leaders- Is it a sign of the times?

Last time I’ve mentioned about interesting situation of promoting people who are personally not convinced to became a Leaders. It may sound a bit odd but this situation seems to be getting more common this days and the impact that it may have on companies can be significant.

First of all, how this is even possible? Answer is very simple, market needs generate the situation where gaps have to be filled as quick as possible. One way or another. In this case companies in development phase look for Leaders to run their teams and secure quality of delivered processes. First and most natural move will be to find experienced Leaders inside own playground. If this won’t happen we need to extend our researches and look on the market. But what happens when your operating in city like Warsaw, where biggest companies are opening their offices practically every month? What happens if you don’t have enough Leaders inside and outside of your company?

Usually companies have three available options:

  1. Office can be moved to another country or city. In this case company need to make a decision if they will pay for that process, which is quite risky by the way, because we can’t be sure if the quality of delivered services will remain on the same level after mentioned change.
  2. Company will offer better salaries than competition to encourage potential employees to choose them. Again we’re talking about additional costs but in this case quality of work wont suffer. To be honest it can even increase if we’ll make a good decisions during recruitment process.
  3. Complement existing shortages by looking for potential talents in own company. In my opinion most reasonable approach but unfortunately at some point we can face a situation where we wont be able to find promising talents. Usually those people will be gems in the Team and as we all know ‘gems’ are quit difficult to find.

What then? What happens in case where company don’t want to go in the direction described in points 1 & 2 and point 3 at some point is impossible to implement because we used all available talents. Yes, that’s the point when bad decisions take place. Directors and Managers try to convince people who are not ready (or will never be) to became Leaders. In those cases most of the potential Leaders will accept the offer because change results in higher salary, promotion, prestige. It’s nice to say to your family and friends ‘Guys, I’ve been promoted to a Leader’s role. I’ll manage my own Team now’. Every mother will be proud hearing that her son or daughter did that.

But at the same time when such decision is made and new Leader take over the Team it’s expected that features such as decisiveness, organizational skills, communication skills, exceptional moral values and especially a vision will come to a scene.

Person without all of mentioned features will make mistakes, sometimes without bad intentions and sometimes without having a clue why something happened. It wont be so important but in this case Leader is responsible for employees. Every mistake may have an impact on their career or even family life. That’s why it’s so crucial to promote people that feels it, people that need only some small experience to wake up their leadership skills.

Do you observe same trends in your city? I’m really interested if such issues appear in other countries around the world.

In the next post I’ll try to shed some light on the best time for make a decision about being a Leader and the effects related to that.

Greetings and some previews.

Dear Readers,
Considering how fast the Word around us is changing and the impact that those changes have on our lives and professional careers I decided to create a place where we’ll be able to discuss and dispute about most interesting topics connected with our professional life. Mostly because on daily basis I’m responsible for managing a large Team, I’d like us to focus on topics related with Leadership. Of course I don’t want to provide you only with my opinions, many of them will gave some value add although I thought that my posts will be also based on the literature and work of biggest Leaders. Those that influenced this area and mentors that were able to transform their ideas into great profits.

Considering how fast the Word around us is changing and the impact that those changes have on our lives and professional careers I decided to create a place where we’ll be able to discuss and dispute about most interesting topics connected with our professional life. Mostly because on daily basis I’m responsible for managing a large Team, I’d like us to focus on topics related with Leadership. Of course I don’t want to provide you only with my opinions, many of them will gave some value add although I thought that my posts will be also based on the literature and work of biggest Leaders. Those that influenced this area and mentors that were able to transform their ideas into great profits.

Having in mind one of the latest discussions that I had with my good friends I remember that we touched the topic of promoting people in corporate structures who are not personally convinced to became a Leaders. The market on which I have a pleasure to work (Warsaw market) created quite interesting situation in which there are not enough experienced Leaders available. To fill this gaps companies are forced to look for the candidates in their own structures. Sometimes even promoting people that are not sure that they want to become Leaders. This topic seems to be interesting therefore I’d like to shade more light on this in the next article.

Feel free to put some comments or questions.
See you soon!

Piotr Kosiński