Last week I discussed the transition from employee and peer to small group leader. As time goes on, another promotion may be in order for any number of reasons – organizational growth, retirement, and so on. Some organizations promote their employees but take them to other departments to lead new teams. This requires the leader and team to work to develop as a cohesive element, build comradery, striving towards success as the newly found team.
Many organizations will promote from within, taking someone from within the team and making them in charge of the whole team. The once peer, now leader, is about to take on another journey – leading other leaders. What does this look like? How does the new leader successfully lead this team, consisting of subordinate leaders and employees?
As with last week, there are a number of ways to do so. Here are a few tips to help make the transition smoother and more successful.
What other tips and tactics would you provide? What else would you like to see us write about? Share with us here.
Until next time.
One of the natural progression paths is to start at the bottom and work your way up. That is, get hired at a job, likely an entry level position if you are new to the field or freshly out of college, work hard, get a promotion, work hard, get a promotion, work hard… You get it. How do you handle the process and challenges of promoting to the point that you become a team or group supervisor or leader? Yesterday you were their peer and now you are in charge.
Here are a few tips.
What tips do you have for a new leader, leading a team where they were once a peer?
Next week I will elaborate on the process of transitioning from small group leader where you have a few team members, to large group leader where you will have subordinate leaders. How to handle the transition to leading leaders?
When I was going through Officer Candidate School (OCS), we were pushed to the brink (or so I thought) pretty regularly. Early mornings, late nights, long days, lots of sweat, and constant learning. One of the mantras we were taught really stuck with me, well, a lot stuck with me.
When in charge, take charge; when in a leadership position, lead; when in a follower position, follow.
It made sense. If you are in charge or report to someone, then do it. Well, the OCS cadre pushed candidates, placing them under pressure, to see how they respond. If they responded poorly, then additional training (in some form) was required. The purpose of this was to place these leaders into positions where decisions were to be made while under stress, to teach them how to manage stressful situations and lead others – prepare them to lead Soldiers into battle if needed. It made sense, if you are in charge then you better take charge and lead your Soldiers.
So, why was this so valuable? This also holds true in a business or non-profit environment as well. Let’s break this down.
When in charge, take charge.
You are responsible for the situation and you must take control and get the job done. Delegate as needed, provide task and purpose, and see it to completion. Sounds easy, right? How many times have you seen or been in a meeting or office where it was difficult to tell who was in charge – who’s the boss? If this happens, then whoever is in charge, is not taking charge. If this is you, then insert your authority and take charge of the situation. This does not have to be done in an “I’M THE BOSS” way, but make sure that what is supposed to be happening, actually is happening. Whoever is in charge, may not even be the boss. He or she may just be the person responsible for that task, project, or meeting. Still, if you are in charge, take charge.
When in a leadership position, lead.
Similar to when in charge, take charge, this is focused on leading others. If you are in charge, you may have a responsibility to see a task or project through to completion. If you are the leader, you have an obligation to mentor, direct, inspire, motivate, and so on. Leading is more than seeing a task through, it is about building others – building leaders. What happens quite often, is people in leadership positions really are or become managers. Managers are task or product focused – did enough product get delivered on time, is the office running efficiently, and so on. A leader needs to shift some of their efforts from task completion (which is important) to building others. If you are a leader, then lead.
When in a follower position, follow.
From a leadership perspective, following well is just as important as leading well. In fact, following well may actually lead others. Here’s how. Back to OCS… since everyone took their turn leading the class and being a follower, each candidate knew what it was like to lead a group, sometimes it was like herding kittens and others like a symphony in motion. So, the best way to help your peer leader succeed, was to be an exceptional follower. What does that mean? Well, if given a task from the leader, do it to the best of your ability. That’s it. Sure, sometimes our best is not that great, but all you can do is learn and do better.
So, by following well, you show your peers that you care enough to help them succeed, and in turn, they will do the same for you. Additionally, if others see you doing your best, they are more likely to do their best as well, or know that you care for others which inspires and motivates. Think of it this way. How many times have you seen or heard of the subordinate surpassing a superior, and becoming their boss? If that boss struggled to get their former subordinate to cooperate and do their share, what do you think they are most likely to do in return?
When in charge, take charge.
When in a leadership position, lead.
When in a follower position, follow.
To the best of your ability.
I have never been one to dive too deep into politics, mainly because my belief is to take care of others because it is the right thing to do, not for any personal gain. Interestingly enough, caring for others first generally produces greater results for me personally in the long run. So, it works out!
But the recent Presidential election caused me to consider this question, or issue. Is it more important to support the President or the Presidency? We live in a country where we are free to make our own decisions, speak with our own voice, and elect our leadership. How then, or why, do so many choose to protest against our President, to the point of protesting during his inauguration, fighting, or shunning others for supporting him? Again, freedom of speech allows protestors to voice their discontent. But why do it in this way?
I am not making a political stance here. This is about supporting the right to choose, the right to vote. As a country, we elected President Trump, to lead our country for the next 4 years. To me, it would be more practical to support the Presidency, the idea of democracy and a freedom to choose, than to protest just because we can. Whether you like him or not, Mr. Trump is our President, our Commander in Chief, our leader. Support the Presidency if you cannot support the President. Protesting our leaders seems more like protesting against our right to choose. After all, we did choose him, so let’s all support him, at least what he represents – freedom.
This was a brief post, but it is a simple idea – support freedom.
How many people can you supervise, manage, or lead?
I once heard someone brag that they had 12 direct reports while their peer only had 4. I have heard of people having 25 direct reports. My first thought is WOW!, how can all those people receive effective leadership from their boss? How can the boss be an effective leader? The person with 4, that sounds about right. But the rest, that is just insane (if you ask me).
How many people can you supervise? How many can you manage… lead? Is there a difference? Does it really matter? And what difference does it really make if you have 1, 10, or 100 people working for you?
It definitively matters – all of it.
First, let’s frame this question a little better. Is there a difference between supervising, managing, and leading? Of course! And here is my take.
If you are a supervisor, then you are the first line leader to those you that work for you. This generally requires knowledge of how and what your team does (not in a micromanaging way though). Tasks are delegated from you to them, and they report progress and issues directly to you. Chances are good that you provide periodic evaluations to them as well.
If you take this as “I am their supervisor” then you likely take your job seriously and provide regular (quarterly, annually, etc.) reviews and help your team members grow as individuals and as a team. You serve those that work for you and desire to see them succeed.
If you take this role as “I am just the supervisor” then you are probably disengaged and serve as some level of junior management with an additional duty of being responsible for others and their work. You accepted the role for the extra pay.
If you are a manager, then you are probably responsible for a larger group such as a retail store, restaurant, department in an office, and so on. You will have supervisors that report directly to you, and they may have subordinate supervisors as well. Your focus is on the bigger picture (strategy) of your department, store, or group. You receive guidance from your manager (boss, supervisor – leader), develop a plan, and delegate different aspects to your subordinate supervisors to implement.
If you handle your responsibility as “I am their manager” then you will be engaged and provide task and purpose to your subordinate supervisors, and enable them to make decisions. You also understand that they have their own team to supervise and give them the time to work with their team.
If you are “just the manager” then you are likely regurgitating directives from your supervisor and have your subordinates do the work. Little direction or clarification is provided and you are likely to be “checking the box” regarding most of your own duties – completing your piece of the strategic plan, overseeing the development of your subordinate supervisors, and those evaluations or reviews – those will get done some day.
Often, these position (supervisor and manager) can be overwhelming. If you find yourself in a position where you are just the supervisor or manager and you want to be more, ask your leadership for help – they should help you, it is their job. If not, then find someone who will!
If you are a leader, then you are providing motivation and inspiration, task and purpose, guidance and direction to those that work for and around you. Leading effectively will cause others to notice and respond positively, even if they do not work directly for you.
Leaders are distinct from supervisors or manager, or even directors. Supervisors, manager, and directors are titles – if you have the title, then you are one. Leaders, on the other hand, are not titles given to you with a raise. You either are one, or not. They are earned. But, leaders can be found everywhere – the supervisor, manager, employee, team member – anyone! An employee can motivate and inspire others to achieve more, the supervisor can provide clear task and purpose, encouraging them to achieve more for themselves and their team, or the manager can provide guidance and direction. They can all be leaders!
Back to the question, how many people can I supervise?
I look at it this way, what do I want to accomplish with your team? If you merely want to provide some level of oversight and direction, then you can probably supervise or manage 15, 20, who knows how many people – but probably quite a bit. If that is all you want to do, then sure.
Now, if you want to make a real impact, then supervising and managing should include mentoring, regular feedback, constructive criticism, opportunities for personal and professional growth, regular and consistent reviews. You should be open and available to have your team members bring just about any issue to your attention. Do this, and you will become – or be – a leader.
There is a cost to this. If you are really leading others, and fulfilling your leadership duties (mentoring, appraisals, professional development), then you will not have the time to do this for 25 people successfully. Consider the time it will take to do this effectively. Perhaps 5-8 is more reasonable. This will allow you to serve them and your organization well, and see them develop into future leaders themselves.
A solution to this is to develop subordinate leaders and empower them to make lead, manage, and supervise their own teams. This requires the fine art of delegation and can be quite empowering if done correctly.
So what do you choose? Do you ask for more direct reports so you can brag about how many people work directly for you? Or, do you develop others, and truly lead your team to success? The choice is yours.