Very frequently people are moved from a technical job into a leadership position, without any proper training. The assumption is that if you are a good technician, you can be a good team leader or boss. It may be so, but a little help may be required in order to achieve success. Here is a story to illustrate the keys to becoming the boss.
After three and a half years as a specialist in the software department, Monica was promoted to manager of the team she used to be part of. She was to lead a group of seven people, coordinate the work of three external consultants, and report directly to the manager of operations. She was becoming the boss!
Monica’s salary went up by 30% and she was included in the very coveted incentive program of the company, which meant that after three more years she’d be able to cash some good money from the stock option program—provided, of course, that things continued moving in the right direction. As the company was growing very rapidly, this was an almost guaranteed benefit.
Monica was obviously delighted with the news of the promotion… at first. But, she found after a couple of weeks that a new title and monetary incentives are not a very lasting motivation.
Challenges in Becoming the Boss
To start with, her new boss was an old-timer in the company, stuck to the “old ways,” and a person not necessarily easy to deal with. Even though he had a lot of experience and was very respected in the industry, he was also extremely stubborn, not a very good team player, and a very poor listener. The weekly progress meetings with him were usually frustrating, and Monica found herself dreading those encounters.
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On her own team side, people were unresponsive—apart from two or three very valuable exceptions. There was some resentment among the team, because Monica, despite being less senior, had moved up from being a colleague to become their boss. To make matters worse, the external consultants made very clear that they preferred to deal with other team members rather than dealing with Monica. She was also working longer hours, which didn’t make things easy at home with her two kids and her work-ridden husband.
After being promoted because she was a star in the company, Monica was quickly becoming a very frustrated and demotivated individual. However, she considered herself a fighter and was not about to give up. After reflecting on the situation during an unusually quiet afternoon, she decided to take action.
Keys to Becoming the Boss
The first thing that she did was to apply to be included in the company’s coaching program. She knew that she had the potential to become a good leader, but she required some guidance about the steps to take. For her, trying to be self-inspired was like tickling herself, it wouldn’t work. She needed an external disruptor, someone with whom she could feel safe while reflecting on things, in a non-judging environment. So, she got a coach!
The next move was to recognize—and convince herself—that her job had actually changed. Her expertise as a software specialist was not—so much—needed anymore. Her job was to make sure that the team working for her had all they required.
A dynamic process of inquiry prompted her to take a positive stance on things: “what’s working well?” “What’s going according to plan?” “How can I leverage those in order to improve my results in other areas?”
Moving on, she had to make herself aware that she had a team of very clever people as subordinates. She didn’t have to have all the ideas. What about listening to them? Like…really listening to them? Create a similar atmosphere to the one she was getting with her coach: a non-judging-all-ideas-are-welcome environment. Make them feel important and valued. She was very surprised at how things changed right after the first meeting. She had a great team and she was managing to get them all to work in good harmony!
Amazingly enough, a similar strategy worked surprisingly well with her boss. When she put herself on the proper-listening mode, and succeeded in finding what her boss really wanted, he started to call Monica more frequently to discuss the strategy not only for her team but for other teams. All she did was listen, show real interest on what her boss was saying, prompt him with a few questions, and become a thinking partner for him.
Monica is now enjoying her new “boss” position. She learned that concentrating on the motivation of her team, and learning to properly listen to others made a world of difference. Monica managed to develop a safe and collaborative environment, inculcating in her team members a sense of achievement and personal satisfaction, which resulted in a clear boost in performance.
Want to help your team develop the skills to transition into leadership roles? Check out the Pluma online coaching platform and request a demo today. Our certified executive coaches are ready to support you and your team in building the strong relationship skills required to succeed in today’s business environment.