Lead, like a boss!

By: Steven King
PAICR Board of Directors member
Speaker at the 2017 PAICR Annual Conference

I’ve had a lot of managers through the years, but only a few I would consider leaders. However, I’ve tried to take the best from all of them. It is with that experience and knowledge that I’ve built a leadership framework of success that you can use to establish yourself as more than just a manager.

From Rookie to All-Star – Every Team Member Matters

EVERY member of the team is important. The opinions, efforts, and contributions from your most junior employee to your most senior veteran matter. Every member should feel valued and know how their efforts contribute to the success of the team. We all have an all-star employee, but you need every member playing their part to win the game.

One Playbook – Everyone Should Know the Game Winning Strategy

You absolutely need to be clear about where the team is headed. What are you trying to accomplish this year? How does this align with the corporate goals? I’ve found that most people are problem solvers. As such, if they know at a high level what the team needs to accomplish for the year – and how this aligns with the firm’s goals – they’ll figure out a way to do it.  Your team wants to show you, and the firm, the value they provide. Your job is to point them in the right direction.

Once a Player, Now a Coach – Share Your Knowledge and Experience

There are two parts of this statement. The first is sharing the knowledge and experience that you’ve accumulated through the years. I know some managers are afraid to share what they know. They believe that keeping information to themselves makes them more valuable and indispensable to the firm. However, sharing this knowledge is not only respected, but it will only make your team stronger. And leading a strong team, with a foundation of knowledge and experience, often produces remarkable work.

The second part of this statement is the importance of transparency. You must be transparent with your agenda, inner conversations, conflicts, and concerns. There are some topics that require discretion, but overall your team is far more effective if they have all the information.  Plus, if you model transparency you are on the fast track to building trust.

Create Chemistry – Every Great Team Revolves Around Trust

Believe it or not, you don’t know it all.  Remember why you hired each person on the team. Your team members have talents, knowledge, and opinions that are different from yours. Embrace it! This is part of what makes a great team. Spend time listening to them. Learn from them. Often you will find that where trust is earned it is also given. Having a foundation of trust will foster an environment of open communication which is invaluable. If you can’t trust your team or they don’t feel like they can trust you, you’ve got some work to do.

Game Time – Now It’s Time to Let Them Shine

Now it’s game time and your job is to let your team shine. I cannot say this strongly enough, do NOT skip this step. If you skip this step, you will find that all your previous hard work was in vain. Why? Because I personally don’t know many people that like to do all the work and never get the credit. As a leader, you must get comfortable letting your team take center stage. And I believe that a team built on transparency, trust, and respect will be a team that wants to celebrate their leader.

This approach has served me well over the years. I don’t have to manage the day-to-day activities of my team as they know what they need to do.  I trust them to work toward the vision of the team and the firm. They trust me to set them up for success. So how do I know that this makes me a manager and a leader? Because I know my team would tackle any problem we face without hesitation –not because I told them to, but simply because it needed to be done.

Registration is now open for the PAICR Annual Conference November 13-14th in New York City.  Register Now.

So Now You’re a Big Wig

By: Tom Mulligan
PAICR Vice President, PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2010

After years of hard work as an individual contributor, your contributions have been recognized and you’ve been promoted. Now you’re a manager. So what do you do?!

Recommendation #1: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Many inexperienced managers (and some experienced ones) fall back on what they know, which is doing the individual contributor job. After all, that’s why they were promoted, right? Because they can do the job better than anyone else, right?! Wrong. They were promoted because their knowledge of doing that job should enable them to effectively manage a group of others doing that job.

Think back to when you were an individual contributor. Did you want your boss constantly leaning over your shoulder, micro-managing everything you did? Of course not. You wanted guidance and support, but you also wanted trust and independence and even the freedom to make mistakes once in a while. After all, that’s a great way to learn. Plus, if you hadn’t been given that opportunity, how could you ever have done well enough to be promoted? So do your team a favor—provide them with guidance and support, but then let them run with it.

Not to mention that, as a manager, you will have a lot more on your plate. There will be more meetings to attend, more research to do, and more need to just think and contemplate and ponder. And, LOTS more communicating to do, which leads me to my second recommendation.

Recommendation #2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I once participated in a fascinating team-building exercise that illustrated the importance of communication. There was an obstacle course with boundaries, barriers and other challenges to be overcome. (Please note, this was a business obstacle course with rags and Tupperware on the floor, not an American Ninja obstacle course with giant trampolines or climbing walls.) The object of the exercise was for the entire team to traverse the obstacle course in groups of two. One of each group of two was blindfolded, and the other served as the blindfolded individual’s guide. The two-person teams had to go through the course in a predetermined order, and there was no passing or changing the order.

So, the seeing guides would tell the blindfolded individuals things like “take two steps forward,” “turn about 45 degrees to your left,” and so on. Not surprisingly, accurate and frequent communication was critical for this.

The really interesting part, however, came when a group encountered a barrier that required a pause in the team’s progress—for example, one was “stand in place for two minutes.” At those points, the sighted individuals would tell their blindfolded counterparts something like “Okay, we just got stopped. We’re going to be standing here for a few minutes, and then I’ll let you know when we can start moving again.” Seems simple enough, right? But it wasn’t. In every case, within 15 or 20 seconds, the blindfolded individuals would start to ask things like “What’s happening? Are we ready to start moving yet?” Wait, didn’t you just tell them that they’d have to stand still for a while, and that you’d let them know when they could start going again? Yes, you did. But here is the lesson: people always crave more communication, especially from their leaders. In short, YOU CANNOT OVER-COMMUNICATE. The more you communicate, the better.

In the absence of frequent communication, people start to assume the worst. “They are all leaving without me! I’m holding up the group! My leader isn’t paying attention, we’re falling behind!” Time drags on when you don’t get updated information – 20 seconds can feel like 2 minutes, 20 minutes can feel like 2 hours, 2 weeks can feel like 2 months.

So take advantage of every chance you get to communicate – and not only with your team, but with your peer group of managers as well. Just as intra-team communication is a challenge, inter-team communication is a challenge as well.

From my experience, the more you delegate and communicate, the more successful you’ll be as a big wig.