Team Leadership as a Calling

Post Written by
Ivan Dabić
Last modified on June 25th, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Internal promotions can be hard to handle. If you're promoted to be a team leader, there are some counter effects to the promotion, put upon you by your old team. Studies show that a good number of employees get fired or demoted within the first year of receiving a promotion to a higher position. People get promoted and they fury up to the corporate leader, with flying stars and a lot to give. The only thing left is to keep up the pace and improve on their new role.

Unfortunately, internal promotions may be a double-edged sword. On one end, it's a great way to advance your position and take up new challenges. But, it also raises the bar of what's expected from you, without disclosing what many of those expectations are.

Being new in a leadership role, it's important to understand the game and to read the signs around you. Your old team can become your biggest supporter or greatest demoter. Never underestimate the impact your team has on your growth. As a team leader, you need to focus on your team while working on your new position too.

The following are 5 key points to what it takes to be a team leader. Work on them, and you can grow into a great leader. Disregard them, and chances are you won't have a team to lead very soon.

You are a Manager

This is your new role! What does that mean? Well, you're not to be the smartest person on the team or the know-it-all. You are now a leader, the person that needs to understand people and how to drive them. That is also one of the biggest pitfalls of internal promotions. You are now in charge of your team, either fully or partially. Also, you might see the friendships you had with your colleagues slowly fade away. It is only natural since your role is not the same as it used to be. Truth be told, you should not even try to force friendships if your teammates start to push back automatically.

Your job is not to be liked but to be effective in your work. You should not need to popularize yourself in your department to get regular updates from your team. If you do need to do it, it means one of the two things:

  • you have lost your team's respect
  • you've focused more on personal relationships than your duties

Instead, your leadership role must define the loyalty between your team and you. You must polish your leadership skills in a way that makes you lead and empower people to develop themselves further. Making sure upper management perceives your team as the must the most successful one is a must - even though it may not always be the case. During team meetings, you must be the source of inspiration - and now a whip for it!

The Know-it-all

As mentioned in the opening, to be a manager in your department, you're not to be the know-it-all in. Quite the opposite. Managers are MANAGING PEOPLE, they are not superstars in the field their department is operating. In your team, you should not be the savior nor the one who has all the answers (even if you knew the answers and even if you were the superstar).

Your job now is to lead your team. To provide them with a PATH that will help them uncover those answers, and MEANS to work through their daily tasks. When your team members approach you for a consultation you have to know the question that comes AFTER their question. Regardless of the problem at hand, you have to know all the questions coming after your team's questions. Why so? Well, you have to empower your team to seek answers fro themselves. Instead of giving them instant answers, ask them questions like:

  • What would you do?
  • What do you think is the best way?
  • Why do you think that we should...?

Answers to these questions will help you help them and also make them involved in the decision-making process too.

Danger of answers

Ignoring the above workflow, and providing all the answers to the team, will inevitably cause them to:

  • fully rely their work on you
  • stop learning and advancing on their job
  • expecting you to learn instead of them

Without any further explanation, it is clear what effect this kind of "management" has on the team. As much as you keep yourself away from providing answers the better for the team.

Periodical reviews

These events should be of a consultative nature only. You have all the time in the world to perform reviews and digest them throughout the year.

Reviews are one of the best tools to stay in touch with the objective grade of your team. But, keeping all the suggestions and comments you want to say, for a few meetings throughout the year is a waste of a good tool. Your duty is non-stop and your reviews must cover every day in the year.

Your teammates will respect your actions if you drop the official review dates and deliver feedback on a regular basis. Keep the official reviews for special announcements, like promotions, and acknowledgments of a job well done on various projects, etc.

Leadership as a calling

Being a leader means you're the team's drive; empowering them to take the next step; keeping them on track; helping them improve. Your team is a living tool that helps the company make revenue. The company uses revenue pieces to "thank" their employees for their hard work. This is the never-ending cycle to which leaders are tied to - as a supervising body, you're at the helm of steering the team in the right direction. Every mistake your team makes is your mistake too. Every win your team does is your win too. You need to promote each win on management meetings - no one is bound to know what happens in your team unless you promote it. Promote your teams, promote their strengths, and help the company grow. Companies do not forget who helped them move up and, most definitely, don't forget who helped them move down. With this in mind, you as a leader have the sole responsibility to engage teams in the favor of company goals and mission/vision paths. You represent what the team should be in the eyes of upper management. If you start to treat your position as a given throne you will fail. Your team will work against you. The team's rebel will cause productivity to drop for two reasons:

  • you are a misunderstanding of the role means the team will work against you
  • not driving the team to success means you are not there to drive the company to success

The most important thing to understand here is that every mistake your team makes is your mistake. Remember that as it will hit you HARD. Much harder than anyone from your team.

So, embrace the leadership role as a calling and not as a given reward, as it is up to you to make the next great leap with your team. Or fall on your own.

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